Guidance

Measuring and reporting environmental impacts: guidance for businesses

Guidance for businesses on measuring and reporting their greenhouse gas emissions.

This guide is designed to help businesses measure and report their environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions. Understanding and reporting these impacts can help identify ways of improving environmental performance and cutting costs.

This replaces the 2009 guidance on how to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions, the 2006 guidance on environmental key performance indicators, and Guidance on reporting greenhouse gas removals and emissions from domestic woodland creation (PDF, 166KB, 10 pages) , which have been combined into a single document.

Reporting greenhouse gas emissions

Since 1 October 2013 the Companies Act 2006 (Strategic Report and Directors’ Report) Regulations 2013 has required all UK quoted companies to report on their greenhouse gas emissions as part of their annual Directors’ Report. That requirement affects all UK incorporated companies listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange, a European Economic Area market or whose shares are dealing on the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ.

The government encourages all other companies to report similarly, although this remains voluntary.

Advice for those companies required to report, as well as those for which it remains voluntary, is included in the environmental reporting guidance.

A guide for small businesses on how to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions is also available.

Greenhouse gas conversion factors

The government produces conversion factors for greenhouse gas reporting. These conversion factors help companies convert their activities, such as fuel consumption, car mileage or waste generated, into the equivalent carbon emissions. The conversion factors are updated annually at the end of May.

We do not recommend that these factors are used by organisations outside the UK as the emission factors are specific to the UK. However, overseas electricity factors are available.

Prior to 2013 the conversion factors were published as a spreadsheet, along with the associated methodology paper. Even older conversion factors are available from the National Archives.

The guidance documents and tools mentioned above complement other resources such as the PAS2050 methodology for assessing the carbon footprint of products.

Reporting transport emissions

The government also provides specific guidance for freight transport operators and for companies wishing to report emissions from their work-related travel:

The Department for Transport’s work-related travel guidance helps organisations in the UK measure and manage the greenhouse gas emissions from commuter journeys and business travel, which can be a significant source of emissions for many organisations.

Further support

The free advice service on how to use the tool and interpret greenhouse gas reporting has now ended. A list of common queries about the greenhouse gas conversion tool is available.

If further advice is needed, there are a number of private sector organisations active in carbon reporting which you might want to approach instead, although they may wish to charge for their time.

This list is not exhaustive and is not officially endorsed by Government but may prove useful to you.

Reporting on other environmental impacts

As well as greenhouse gas emissions, the government’s environmental reporting guidance helps companies identify and address their other significant environmental impacts. These include things like water use, air pollution, waste and biodiversity. The guidance explains how companies can set targets or “key performance indicators” (KPIs) to measure and improve their environmental performance.

A list of companies that currently report on their environmental performance can be found on the Corporate Register.

Published 9 April 2013
Last updated 10 June 2015 + show all updates
  1. Added WS Group to the list of companies under the heading Further support.
  2. Added the company Loreus under Further information
  3. Updated guidance under the 'Greenhouse gas conversion factors' heading.
  4. Added Carbon Trust under the 'Further support' heading.
  5. Added a link to the list of common queries about the greenhouse gas conversion tool.
  6. Added two companies which may be able to provide advice on GHG reporting and changed links to Ricardo-AEA.
  7. Added links under 'Further information' to Jones Lang LaSalle and Bestfootforward (Anthesis Consulting Group).
  8. Added link to Carbon Footprint website under 'Further information'.
  9. Updated Further information section to include organisations able to help with carbon reporting.
  10. Added link to emission factors methodology paper.
  11. Added link to Regulations
  12. Updated with 2013 environmental reporting guidance.
  13. First published.