Last month the government announced that all businesses listed on the London Stock Exchange will have to report their carbon footprint from April 2013, making the UK the first country to mandate emissions reporting in annual reports.

With an estimated four million tonnes of CO2 emissions set to be cut by 2021 as a direct result of this, the UK is focused on meeting its target of reducing emissions by 50% by 2025 (DEFRA, 2012).

What does this mean for UK business? The move is expected to have a far reaching impact on carbon reporting in the UK, influencing not only those captured but also those competitors who don’t want to lag behind.

Frances Darton, carbonReduction programme manager at Achilles commented, “The introduction of mandatory reporting is a positive step and demonstrates the UK’s leadership in reducing its impact on climate change. Carbon reporting should not be viewed as a burden but as a commercial opportunity to drive operational and energy efficiencies.”

Darton outlined below some top tips for businesses captured by the announcement and those looking to demonstrate leadership in their carbon and sustainability reporting.

1. Act now: Don’t bury your head in the sand. Do the research and get started, ensuring you make friends with those areas of the business that will support you with the data collation – from finance and your environment/sustainability teams through to facilities and HR.

2. Sustainability is here to stay: Long term thinking will set you in good stead when it comes to carbon reporting. We recommend choosing a structured approach that will support all your current and any future reporting requirements. It’s proven that genuine leaders in carbon reporting reap benefits across their organisations, including operational efficiency, energy efficiency and cost savings alongside enhanced reputation, brand leadership and marketing opportunities.

3. The business case: Organisations should look beyond the reporting requirement to realise the business benefit, identifying opportunities in carbon management and reduction. While measurement is a great starting point, we’d recommend considering a forward looking programme or standard which focuses on achieving future reductions. This will not only drive quick wins but support a longer term approach to GHG reduction, future-proofing your carbon strategy.

4. Proud to be sustainable: Shout about what you are doing and highlight your achievements. It’s vital that your stakeholders – both internal and external – know about your commitment to sustainability. Keeping staff updated on progress will encourage engagement and will be key in driving the behavioural change required to make in-roads in your reduction strategy.

5. Business as usual: To deliver long term cultural change, sustainability must be embedded as business as usual – top down and bottom up. Sustainability works when, together with carbon reduction, it isn’t seen as something which is ‘managed by another team’. The entire organisation must be engaged and have that sense of ownership.