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Measuring and reporting environmental impacts

I’d like to report my organisation’s emissions, where do I start?

Defra, in partnership with the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), provides guidance for businesses and organisations on how to measure and report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions:

The guidance explains how organisations can measure and report their GHG emissions as well as set targets to reduce them. The guidance is aimed at all sizes of business as well as public and third sector organisations.

Existing data sources such as utility bills, fuel consumption and car mileage can be converted into CO2 equivalent emissions by applying relevant conversion factors. We publish annual greenhouse gas conversion factors to help you do this.  These factors should be used with the guidance to help you calculate your emissions.

There is supplementary guidance available to help organizations report on the greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration from woodland creation in the UK. This guidance must be read in conjunction with the Woodland Carbon Code and ‘Guidance on how to measure and report your greenhouse gas emissions’.

How do I report my transport emissions?

In addition to the general guidance (above), the Government also provides specific guidance for freight transport operators and for companies wishing to report emissions from their work-related travel.

The freight-specific guide for operators who want to measure and report their carbon emissions was developed by the freight industry in partnership with Department for Transport’s Low Carbon Supply Chain Steering Group, and Defra. It is designed to supplement the general guidance document (see above) by providing more specific information and examples relating directly to freight transport operations. The document is aimed primarily at freight transport operators. However, it will be of interest to any business that wishes to understand where transport fits into wider greenhouse gas emissions reporting, and as such is written to be accessible to a wider audience.

The Department for Transport’s work-related travel guidance has been developed in partnership with Defra to help UK organisations measure and manage the greenhouse gas emissions from commuter journeys (staff travelling to and from work) and business travel (staff travelling during the course of the working day). Work-related travel can be a significant source of emissions for many organisations, however it can also be a challenge to report upon it.

This guidance provides a clear set of instructions on how to calculate work-related travel emissions and source data. A pilot carbon calculation tool has been developed alongside the guidance to assist organisations in calculating emissions from work-related travel.

Your views on the future of company reporting

A consultation was held between 11 May and 5 July on whether the Government should continue to encourage measuring and reporting of GHG emissions on a voluntary basis or whether regulations should be introduced to make reporting mandatory for some UK companies.  A consultation document is available. Updated November 2011: The Secretary of State is currently considering the Government’s response to the consultation and will make an announcement in the coming months.

Benefits of reporting

There are benefits to both companies and investors from company reporting of GHG emissions. Measuring emissions is an important first step to managing them, giving companies an understanding of their where their main emissions are. Emissions reporting can act as an import communications tool within companies, helping to gain senior management and Board support for emissions management. Companies also report benefits in terms of reputation and brand value.

In November 2010, as part of its obligations under the Climate Change Act (2008), Defra published a report considering the impact of company reporting of GHG emissions:

This report includes some specially commissioned research on the contribution that reporting makes to emission reductions and the associated costs and benefits. This report will help inform the government’s decision on whether to make regulations requiring business to report their GHG emissions. An announcement on how the government intends to proceed will be made in spring 2011.

What about reporting on other environmental impacts?

Environmental Reporting Guidelines – Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) (PDF 347 KB). These guidelines to help companies to identify and address their most significant environmental impacts.  The guidelines outline how companies might begin to set targets/KPIs to measure environmental performance against. Companies can make use of standard business data already collected, for example, from Environmental Management Systems and utilities bills.  The environmental guidelines provide guidance on how data could be reported.

Companies that currently report on their environmental performance can be found listed on the

Older GHG conversion factors

October 2010

September 2009

June 2008

June 2007

July 2005

Page last modified: 13 February 2012