Churches' development agency Christian Aid has welcomed new research showing that companies which make their carbon footprint public cut costs and attract investment.
It says the research, published jointly in the UK by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), financial services firm PwC and the Carbon Disclosure Project, highlights the need to make such reporting in the commercial sector mandatory.
Alison Doig, Christian Aid’s senior climate change advisor, commented: "Taking action on climate change is thought by many to involve hard choices with heavy costs. This shows in fact it can be overwhelmingly cost effective.
She added: "At present, companies make public their carbon footprint on a voluntary basis. Now is the time to make reporting mandatory for all companies. We urge the government to act. Only a lack of political will can prevent such a move."
Some 150 companies were surveyed, with more than half reporting that the benefits of reporting greenhouse gas emissions outweighed the costs.
Pressure imposed on companies at boardroom level to reduce emissions led to energy savings, while improved environmental credentials led in turn to outside investment.
Two thirds of respondents said measuring emissions cost them less than £50,000 a year while 14 per cent said they had made energy savings of more than £200,000 during the same period.
Christian Aid says that at present there is no consistency as to how those companies that make the information public on a voluntary basis should report, or the reporting standard they should meet.
To make a real difference to the UK carbon footprint (estimated at 15 per cent of global emissions when all those listed at the London Stock Exchange are taken into account) companies should be required to meet an agreed standard.
"‘With vulnerable communities in poorer countries bearing the brunt of climate change at present, more than 75,000 Christian Aid supporters have called on the government to make carbon emission report mandatory for all UK listed companies," said Alison Doig.
"The UK is committed to cutting its carbon emission by 80 per cent over 1990 levels by 2050. To achieve this we all have to play a part. The findings of the research indicate the role the commercial sector can play," she declared.