Reporting company greenhouse gas emissions can be good for business, according to a UK Government review published today.
The review said the process of reporting the emissions produced by a company was not enough on its own to drive reductions by businesses. But voluntary reporting drove the measuring of greenhouse gases, which enabled the setting of targets to reduce them, delivering benefits such as savings on costs, building their brands and improving relations with investors and customers.
The study comes as the Government considers whether to make it mandatory for businesses to report their emissions.
Benefits, which were hard to measure in monetary terms, included demonstrating a company's "green credentials" and encouraging investment. The report includes a review of Government-commissioned research by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Carbon Disclosure Project which found that more than half of companies questioned believed that reporting their emissions had led to a net benefit for their business.
The cost of measuring emissions ranged from £25,000 to £400,000 for those questioned - who were mostly big businesses - though most paid less than £75,000.
Environment minister Lord Henley said: "I am pleased to see that many companies already voluntarily involved in reporting greenhouse gas emissions are finding the process beneficial to their business and investors. I am also delighted to see that the act of reporting is encouraging attempts to reduce emissions."
He said the Government will be announcing whether to make greenhouse gas reporting mandatory early next year.
The Environment Department's chief scientific adviser Bob Watson said: "The emission figures seem to act as a catalyst for other changes within the company, resulting in wide-ranging benefits for both the environment and the business.
"Tackling climate change is something we need to do together so it's great to see the positive contribution being made by British companies."
Manufacturing organisation EEF's head of climate and environment policy, Gareth Stace, said: "Measuring and reporting emissions is an important part of best practice and is an enabler rather than a driver of improving the environmental performance of manufacturers.
"Many already do this and making such practice mandatory risks adding yet another bureaucratic burden with little or no benefit in reducing emissions if implemented in addition to existing policy mechanisms.
"However, if Government goes down the mandatory route it should do so only as part of a wider review of climate change policy which delivers genuine simplification. It must also ensure that mandatory reporting is not overly prescriptive so that companies of all sizes and structures can set out clearly the steps they are taking to meet climate change goals."
Rhian Kelly, business group CBI's head of climate change, said the CBI strongly supported emissions reporting because it helped businesses cut carbon effectively and demonstrate their green growth to investors.
"Many companies already report their emissions under a number of mandatory schemes, including the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, the Carbon Reduction Commitment and Climate Change Agreements," she said.
"As ministers consider whether to make carbon reporting mandatory, it is important that the Government takes the opportunity to simplify and align existing regulations, and ensure that any changes fit with international practices."
Friends of the Earth head of climate Mike Childs said: "Companies have a duty to play their part in tackling climate change, and this kind of reporting has an important role in encouraging them to cut emissions and demonstrate a genuine commitment to responsible business.
"The successful companies of tomorrow will be those that help create the low-carbon economy we so urgently need - ministers must now make carbon reporting mandatory."