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Boost for climate bill campaign

Christian Aid's campaign to strengthen the Climate Change Bill has received a big boost after peers moved an amendment to make British companies report on their carbon emissions.

The amendment tabled during a House of Lord's debate on the climate bill, asked for UK firms to be legally obliged to report clearly and comparably on their carbon emissions from their activities across the world - a key Christian Aid demand.

Lord Whitty, the Labour peer and former environment minister, called for measures that would deliver a 'consistent, effective and mandatory system of reporting'.

'Open door'

He noted that 82% of delegates to the recent CBI conference were in favour of mandatory carbon reporting and pointed to the importance of increasing transparency in supporting real behaviour change of companies to cut their emissions.

The government rejected the amendment, claiming that the recently introduced Companies Act would deliver carbon reporting.

Environment minister Lord Rooker stated, 'it's going to happen, but not in the way or speed of these amendments'.

Guidelines not working

However, the Companies Act does not make it mandatory for companies to report their carbon emissions - it only has voluntary guidelines. 

Since its introduction there has been little sign of companies moving towards reporting their emissions in a consistent and comparable way.

Lord Teverson, speaking for the Liberal Democrats who supported the amendment, said that the government would be 'pressing at an open door' with businesses on the matter and that the principle of mandatory carbon reporting had to be part of the bill.

Opposition support

The Conservatives supported the principle of mandatory carbon reporting, and Lord Taylor of Holbeach said there was a clear need to 'begin reporting on the carbon footprint, ideally in the way revenue and profit are done now'.

However Lord Taylor called for more work to find a consensus on the practice of how such reporting could be done.

Christian Aid will be keeping the pressure on throughout the process to see this and other improvements to the bill.