Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Utilities firms squeeze suppliers to cut emissions

April 2008

Six utilities companies are to submit their British suppliers to a scheme that monitors their progress on cutting carbon emissions.

The companies – Anglian Water, EDF, National Grid, RWE, Scottish & Southern Energy and United Utilities – have engaged the supplier management information provider Achilles to conduct annual audits of climate change management plans agreed with the suppliers.

Those meeting targets will hold a certificate, but this may be withdrawn if improvements tail off.

Achilles will use a system developed by Landcare Research, a New Zealand-based environmental assessor that has advised about 400 small and medium-sized businesses on reducing carbon emissions. The Carbon Zero Initiative, as it is known, avoids carbon offset schemes, concentrating on real reductions.

‘The system is not prescriptive, and it’s up to the suppliers to find any way to reduce emissions as long as it is ethical and not related to carbon offsetting,’ said Colin Maund, chief executive of Achilles, which has been licensed and trained by Landcare Research. Any remaining unavoidable emissions may be offset only when a reduction plan is in place.

Maund said: ‘The companies in New Zealand that have taken part in this system have used the certification in their marketing to show they take these issues seriously.’

The utilities companies are paying for the project to be set up, but the suppliers will foot the auditing bills – between £4000 and £10,000 ($8000–$20,000) for the largest businesses.

The first company to implement the scheme will be Anglian Water, which recently held a conference with representatives from 50 suppliers to explain the assessment procedure and gain their support.

The utilities companies may also be audited, although the project is intended to improve suppliers’ performance.

Achilles | UK & NI Ireland | Climate change

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