Inquiry looks at consumption-based emissions reporting


The Energy and Climate Change Committee last week launched an inquiry to investigate the case for consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions reporting in the UK.

Introducing the inquiry, they report that while UK emissions have decreased since 1990, “it has been suggested that this is a result of the way that emissions are currently accounted for, which is on a production basis. Production-based emissions reporting only takes account of emissions produced physically within a particular territory. If a consumption-based accounting approach was to be used—that is, reporting the carbon embedded in all of the goods and services consumed within the UK—it is very likely that the emissions attributable to the UK would be shown to have been increasing.”

For example, emissions produced in other countries in the production of goods being exported to the UK will not count as part of UK emissions.

The inquiry has been established to “explore whether there is a case for the adoption of consumption-based emissions reporting in the UK, whether it is feasible to do this in practice, whether emissions reduction targets might be adopted on a consumption basis, and what the implications for international negotiations on climate change might be if the UK, and others, took this approach.”

Full details on the inquiry, and its terms of reference can be found here, with the deadline for submission of written evidence to the inquiry falling on the 25 October 2011.

While the UK does not presently use a consumption based approach for emissions reporting for overall greenhouse gas emissions at a national level, organisations involved with the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme will not be unfamiliar with the approach.

Indeed, because the CRC Scheme does measure emissions using a consumption based approach, we would argue that the inquiry would greatly benefit from looking closely at how the CRC Scheme has worked in practice.

In particular, there is a great deal that can be learnt from the problems and complications that many organisations within the CRC Scheme have faced in regards to data collection for greenhouse gas consumption based reporting.