There is no doubt that the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) legislation is more complex than need be and that the timing is not ideal.
Yet I believe we are destined to become a low-carbon economy, so such legislation will make the UK more competitive in the global economy.
Look at it this way: globalised supply chains drove costs down, enabling businesses to grow. With shareholder activism on the rise and consumers caring more, sustainable supply chains should have more appeal. Arguably that is already happening.
Organisations have never before collected such accurate, complete energy and fuel data. Increased bureaucracy is never good, but just think of the opportunities instead.
Armed with this accurate information, businesses can slash operational costs without affecting value.
And we need to have the same transparency throughout the supply chain.
I believe that Marks & Spencer has emerged as a UK retail sustainability leader and a global leader with its Plan A being its comprehensive sustainability strategy.
Plan A drives transformation and differentiation. You only have to listen to a company executive talking about how a clothes recycling initiative drove increased non-core sales to realise that sustainability can also be an innovative business strategy.
I believe that early sustainability leaders in every sector understand this and see the CRC as an opportunity to use valuable carbon data to increase market share or open new markets, on top of saving energy, reducing costs and increasing efficiency in the short term.
Organisations are not giving sufficient thought to future carbon trading strategies. CRC is mainly about energy and fuel use, but it is likely that it is only the beginning.
Nothing worth doing is easy. I can’t help thinking that the winners will not be focused on the short-term challenges of CRC, but at driving longer-term competitive advantage. For these organisations, the CRC is nothing more than starting point to transform the competitive supply chain.
Martin McCann is head of sustainability at SAP UK and Ireland
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