After a lengthy consultation process the Government is, next month, set to introduce the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Scheme (CRC). This scheme will affect many NHS organisations and participation will be compulsory for those who are caught.

The CRC is a new emissions trading scheme which will provide financial and public relations incentives to encourage public and private sector organisations to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions and invest in energy saving initiatives. A key point is that, from April 2011, participating organisations will have pay to emit CO2.

You will have to participate in the scheme if, in 2008, you had at least one “half-hourly” electricity meter and you consumed 6000 megawatt hours (the equivalent, at the time, to a spend of around £500,000) or more of electricity. If you had a half hourly meter but consumed less than 6000 megawatt hours, you will not have to participate in full but you will have an obligation to report information to the Environment Agency.

The CRC is the first major policy initiative to come out of the Climate Change Act 2008, which included a commitment from Government to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent (compared with 1990 levels) by 2050. The need to reduce CO2 emissions is also emphasised in the NHS’s own carbon reduction strategy, published last year but recently updated, which sets its own challenging targets. The CRC is one of the ways in which these targets will be met.