New analysis reveals that recent legislation criminalises simple energy and carbon reporting errors
London, 23 February: The directors of thousands of businesses risk getting criminal records if they accidentally misreport their energy consumption and carbon emissions.
A new paper published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation reveals that a little-noticed Statutory Regulation introduced in 2018, and coming into effect in April 2019, has made it a criminal offence, punishable by an unlimited fine, to misreport the energy and carbon dioxide emissions of their business.
Over ten thousand companies, Limited Liability Partnerships and unregistered companies are caught by the rules.
This extraordinary development is the unexpected outcome of a process started by the Treasury in 2015 with an entirely different objective, the simplification of energy and carbon reporting requirements.
However, this well-intentioned proposal was turned through 180 degrees when the development of the legislation was removed from the Treasury and transferred by Mrs May to the newly created Department of Business, Energy and industrial Strategy (BEIS) in 2016. Far from simplifying the law, as the Treasury intended, BEIS deliberately expanded the scope, catching thousands more businesses in the criminal net.
According to the report’s author, Dr John Constable, the regulations are an open invitation to vexatious litigation:
“By a disproportionate use of criminal sanctions, Government has created a pressure point allowing Green activists and industrial competitors to threaten businesses with vexatious ‘lawfare’. Carbon reporting is not straightforward, and errors are almost inevitable in spite of best efforts.”
John Constable: A little nudge with a big stick: Misreporting energy use and emissions is now a crime in the UK (pdf)