Green Electricity Tariffs dissected

Do green electricity tariffs reduce your carbon footprint?

If you’re reading this blog, you may have responsibility for your organisation’s sustainability strategy or carbon reporting. If so, the answer to the question in the title may have a big impact on what carbon emissions you report. If the electricity is coming from the grid, then the short answer to the question is:

No – Green electricity tariffs do not reduce your carbon footprint.

To understand why, we have to delve into the confusing world of Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs), the Electricity (Fuel Mix Disclosure) Regulations 2005, the Renewables Obligation and the grid average emissions factor. Fortunately, the salient issues have been summarised in the article ‘Green electricity tariffs dissected’.

It’s worth stressing that some green tariffs do have important environmental benefits, but none will lead immediately to reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the electricity user.

This is important for companies that report their GHG emissions under regimes such as the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) regulations and the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard, as some may have been led to think that a green electricity tariff will reduce their carbon footprint. Businesses will need to take great care in how they calculate and report their GHG emissions. If they equate a ‘100% renewable electricity’ tariff with zero emissions, then enlightened stakeholders, journalists and pressure groups will view this as at best naïve, and at worst dishonest.

If you’ve any queries or would like to discuss carbon reporting or related areas, then please contact us.

Jon Malcolm

29th January 2020