April 2013: The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Performance Table was published a few weeks ago and attracted some media attention on who had gone up and down the table (see Guardian article here). The CRC is a complex mechanism and Government has had to return to tweak the policy time and again to simplify it. Along with the performance table, it appears the Chancellor’s view of simplification is, as set out in his Autumn Statement (December 2012), to get rid of the CRC altogether.
“1.127 The CRC’s Performance League Table will be abolished, to simplify the scheme further. A full review of the effectiveness of the CRC will be held in 2016 and the tax will be a high priority for removal when the public finances allow.”
For those new to the CRC, they should be made aware the original plan of the policy was to recycle the funds obtained from participants purchase of carbon permits, into sector-wide energy efficiency funding. The incoming Government however changed plans in 2010 and the Chancellor simply took all the funds into Government. It’s more than likely the Government would like to see the back of the CRC sooner, however, it does bring in close to £1bn to the Exchequer a year and this will increase again, as the 2012 Autumn Budget highlights: “2.88 The forecast allowance price remains unchanged at £12 per tonne of carbon dioxide in 2013-14 and £16 per tonne of carbon dioxide in 2014-15. From 2015-16 onwards, the allowance price will increase in line with the RPI.”
Back to the performance table: how did London do?
The full list of 2,000 participants and their ranking in the CRC performance table can be viewed on the Environment Agency’s website here. Culled below are details of some of the London local authority and other public sector participants, their ranking in the table, and links to further information on data submitted. The best review of the table and what it reveals is in the following – excellent – ENDS journals article ‘CRC’s results laid bare‘ [subscription needed]. I’ve copied below just a bit of the text from the article related to the public sector results.
“The public sector emissions reduction was both deeper and wider, averaging 9.5%, involving 85% of organisations. Just 15% increased emissions compared with 28% of firms.
So why has the public sector outperformed the private sector?
A spokesman for the Local Government Association told ENDS: “The reason why councils have performed so well is primarily the drive to be more efficient in light of the government’s austerity measures.” These have seen budgets slashed by a third, putting more pressure on the public sector.
“As part of this process councils have had to rationalise lots of their buildings and this will have helped to bring down the emission totals quite significantly.”
But on emissions mitigation measures he points out that councils have led by example through early action on solar panels: “Councils have been working in this area for a number of years, so a lot of the easy wins have already been achieved, which is why councils come lower down on the early action metric.”
Pete Chasmer is CRC auditor for the Local Government Information Unit. He points out that a major reason for the higher reductions has been a loophole in the rules covering street lighting. Many of the most successful councils were those in charge of street lighting, usually county councils and unitary authorities, that were able to reclassify this as passive, unmetered supply.
Chasmer estimates this could have knocked down the absolute metric by some 20% across the board, while others that already did this in the first year saw no change.
The loophole has since been acknowledged by the Environment Agency, and it will be closed from the scheme’s second phase starting in April 2013 to restore mitigation incentives.
Chasmer also attributes large cuts to councils reducing their estates. He estimates this could have cut councils’ emissions by a further 20% at least. “