NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 8, 2009

The Environment Agency is creating a unit of about 50 auditors and inspectors, complete with warrant cards and the power to search company premises to enforce the British Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), which comes into effect next year, says the London Times.

Decked out in green jackets, the enforcers will be able to demand access to company property, view power meters, call up electricity and gas bills and examine carbon-trading records for an estimated 6,000 British businesses.  Ed Mitchell, head of business performance and regulation at the Environment Agency, said the squad would help to bring emissions under control:

  • The central unit, based in Warrington, Cheshire, can call on the agency's national network of hundreds of pollution inspectors, many of whom will soon be trained in CO2 monitoring.
  • It will also be able to demand energy bills from utilities without the companies under investigation knowing they are being watched.
  • Perhaps most worrying for managers will be the publication of an annual league table ranking companies by performance in cutting emissions.
  • The government hopes the potential shame of a lowly placing will drive organizations to greater energy efficiency.

The CRC was designed to force medium-size and large companies to pay attention to energy efficiency:

  • Under the scheme they will have to use their energy bills to calculate the carbon dioxide generated by their activities.
  • For each ton of CO2 emitted, companies will have to buy a carbon allowance, with the money being paid into a central pool.
  • At the end of each reckoning period, they will get a payment from the fund.
  • The least energy efficient companies will get back less than they paid in, with the surplus going to those that have performed best.

The gains and losses will be small at first but the system is designed to ratchet upwards, so business finds it increasingly expensive to ignore energy efficiency, says the Times.

Source: Jonathan Leake, "Environment Agency Sets up Green Police," Sunday Times, July 4, 2009.

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