BITC to tighten May Day climate network

Over 1,300 businesses have pledged to take action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases as part of Business in the Community’s May Day network. BITC is to toughen up its membership requirements to get companies to deliver on their promises, which were made before the Prince of Wales and the Prime Minister.

The network was launched a year ago on 1 May 2007. Companies vowed to implement a low-carbon strategy to tackle climate change (ENDS Report 388, pp 7-8 ).

The network offers members the chance to share experiences and now has over 800 members, including BT, Boots and United Utilities.140% are small and medium-sized enterprises.

On 1 May this year companies were asked to report back on progress and make further pledges. Of the 1,327 voting delegates at 12 simultaneous video-linked events around the country, only 56% said they were taking action to measure their carbon footprint while 29% said they would do so in the next 12 months.

Only a third of companies said they were taking action to report their carbon footprint and almost as many promised to do so over the next year.

Just a third had set an absolute target to cut emissions while a quarter said they would in the coming year.

To ensure that the network makes better progress, BITC will be toughening up its requirements. This year, it has identified companies that made pledges - last year’s were made anonymously.

"In 12 months time if companies haven’t fulfilled their pledges then they will no longer be part of the May Day network," said Jim Haywood, BITC environment director.

BITC has yet to decide whether to name the laggards: "At the moment we’re in the process of working through how best to support, challenge and inspire companies… And it may be that we do need to take more serious steps in terms of making it clear who hasn’t met their commitments," Mr Haywood said.

By May Day next year, BITC aims to get 75% of the network measuring their carbon footprint. Companies will also be asked to agree to a 5% absolute cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 compared to 2008.