With apologies to Quentin Tarantino, do you know what this is? It's the world's smallest violin, playing just for the private equity firms.
Apparently some of the UK's top private equity firms are revolting (insert own joke here) at the prospect of being included in the government's imminent cap-and-trade scheme, the Carbon Reduction Commitment.
Under the rules of the scheme - which is to come into effect from next year and will require around 5,000 of the UK's largest firms to report on their carbon emissions and adhere to carbon caps or face financial penalties - private equity firms could be classified as a parent company, making them responsible for the carbon emissions from all the businesses in their portfolio, even if individually those businesses did not emit enough carbon to qualify for the scheme.
In many respects, this is remarkably unfair.
If private equity firms should be classified as a "group" for the purposes of the CRC, then why shouldn't all institutional investors be treated in the same way?
Incorporating private equity firms into the CRC will land them with an almighty administrative headache, requiring them to extract carbon data from across their sprawling portfolios. Moreover, many of these private-equity owned companies will be far smaller and have much less sophisticated carbon strategies than the larger firms the legislation is primarily aimed at, making the task all the more onerous.
It is a point the private equity industry is keen to make to the government as part of a last ditch attempt to ensure it is exempted from the legislation.
As a spokesman for industry body the British Venture Capital Association told BusinessGreen.com: "The structure of private equity ownership, where a single fund is the ultimate owner of a disparate group of companies often ranging in size and industry focus, does not fit neatly into the definition of a "group" as proposed under the CRC. If the company is not consolidated into the balance sheet of the manager it should be viewed as independent."
And yet, if there is a degree of unfairness to the inclusion of private equity in the CRC, surely this is an industry that should understand that sometimes life is unfair.
The fact is that the whole point of the CRC is to help cut the UK's carbon emissions. Given that goal the more companies that are included the better.
As a spokesman for DECC noted in a comment that will serve to dampen any hopes private equity firms have that they could yet escape from the scheme: "We're talking about large consortiums here who are collectively responsible for high energy use".
The government has always intended to extend the scheme over time to include smaller companies and if private equity controlled firms have to act as the Guinea Pigs for this expansion into the UK's midmarket then so be it.
What's more, even if compliance with the CRC proves a huge chore for private equity firms in the short term, in the long term it should help increase the value of their portfolios, ensuring they are filled with environmentally sustainable and progressive firms, boasting lower energy bills and climate change risk profiles than their rivals.
In fact, private equity's inclusion in the scheme will only benefit the industry - maybe we should get rid of that violin altogether.
BusinessGreen.com is published by Incisive Media, which is owned by Apax Partners
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