Measuring and managing sustainability performance

Many companies and other corporate bodies already publicly report their greenhouse gas emissions, normally quantified in the form of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. Usually this reporting is voluntary, although there is an increasing move in some countries towards mandatory reporting; The UK Climate Change Act 2008 will potentially affect a large number of UK companies in this way.

Companies obliged or volunteering to explain their company's position and performance in emissions and climate change need to consider carefully their processes, systems, controls and internal reporting requirements.

But what does an organisation need to do to report effectively? Does reporting really matter? And how reliable is the information?

PwC's "Measuring, managing, reducing, reporting and assuring" proposition helps clients answer these questions and is broken down into two areas.

Carbon measurement and reporting

There is overwhelming demand from a multiplicity of stakeholders for information about carbon and climate change risks, opportunities and strategies that might impact the financial wellbeing of a business.

Indeed, from 2010, the government's new Carbon Reduction Commitment legislation will require around 5,000 UK organisations to report on their carbon footprint and enter into a legally binding emissions cap-and-trade scheme.

But rather than compliance and data reporting alone, forward-looking analysis and statements of the risks and opportunities affecting a business will soon become an established part of the reporting cycle within a company. Carbon measurement and reporting creates a strategic picture of the business that is both informative and convincing, and will include:

  • Enhanced market insight - context is critical.
  • Deliver a long term strategy - it has never been more important.
  • Reveal the behavioural triangle - governance, risk and remuneration.
  • How carbon affects the business model - the dynamics and key resources it impacts.
  • Rethinking measurement and presentation - critical in a carbon constrained world.

Now, more than ever before, stakeholders want information that gives them insight - not hindsight. What does your carbon reporting say about your organisation?

The issue

A generally-accepted international framework to disclose information in mainstream reports is needed that deals with information about climate change-related risks, opportunities, carbon footprints, carbon strategies and their implications for shareholder value.

How we can support you

PwC can perform an in-depth review of your current reporting, assessing how effective it is and how it measures up to current leading practice. The output from the review will detail the actions, costs and time required to close the gap from your current position to the identified desired state. Benefits will include:

  • Clear understanding of the strategic relevance of carbon to your business
  • A trusted information set producing timely and relevant information
  • Greater understanding of the current and future risks to your business
  • Relevant and focused information to communicate internally and externally
  • Clarity on your response to climate change
  • Ability to understand the climate change impacts of decision making
  • Better understanding of customer expectations
  • Ability to communicate supplier expectations effectively
  • Reduced burden of CRC and mandatory reporting compliance

Sustainability assurance and non-financial risk, governance and controls improvement

As sustainability reporting becomes more integrated with wider corporate reporting and linked to material business issues, organisations are seeking assurance to support the credibility and reliability of their reported performance. The assurance can be public and designed to underline credibility to external audiences, or private and intended to give confidence to management and board that they are doing the right thing.

The issues

Unlike financial accounting, where companies have long-established processes and controls, the measurement and collection of non-financial data continues to evolve, so normal checks and balances may not be in place.

  • Is the information reliable? Does the reporting present a fair picture?
  • How can management be sure they are getting it right?
  • Do stakeholders – internal and external – believe the reported sustainability performance or do they think it is "greenwash"?

The benefits of assurance include:

  • Greater credibility both internally and externally.
  • Feedback on efficiency and effectiveness of controls and processes and risks and exposures.
  • Guidance on quality of internal and external reporting.
  • Confidence in actions taken to reduce emissions.

How we can support you

Our market-leading team of sustainability assurance professionals offer services in four key areas:


We carry out the full spectrum of assurance assignments from internal readiness assessments to external public assurance – for voluntary or regulatory purposes. The scope of the work can be sized to your needs and the level of assurance designed accordingly. We lead our profession by working closely with national and international standard setters and use the most widely recognised international standard, ISAE 3000.

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Management information systems and processes

We help businesses understand what data is critical to enable strategic decision making and the systems they need to be able to do this effectively.

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Governance, risk and compliance

We are a leading provider of integrated governance, risk and regulatory compliance services. We help deliver lasting change through understanding how sustainability and climate change risks impact the business model.

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Sustainability & climate change reporting

We perform in-depth reviews ranging from measuring environmental footprint and social performance to assessing reporting effectiveness. We provide practical, pragmatic advice on the actions required to address gaps to leading practice.

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Contact us

Alan McGill

Alan McGill

Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 7711 915 663

Tom Beagent

Tom Beagent

Director, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7973 565380

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