Tesco has implemented carbon emissions management software from CA in order to replace "laborious" spreadsheet based green IT management.

The UK’s largest supermarket chain implemented the CA EcoSoftware monitoring platform last month, in order to track and report on its carbon emissions, and to make better judgements on how to cut emissions in the future.

For over two years the firm had been using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to gather and store data on carbon. The retailer said had it had become "difficult" considering the data referred to 4,000 stores globally, distribution centres and offices, as well as its own offshore centre in India and its supplier data. The data is also in different languages around the world.

Simon Palinkas, head of green IT at Tesco, said the company had needed much better carbon emissions recording if the retailer is to meet its targets, set in 2007. The company is attempting to half its CO2 emissions by 2020 from new and existing stores and distribution centres by 2020, compared to 2006 figures. The company is also attempting to halve the emissions in its distribution channel by 2012.

"We needed a better way of measuring and reporting," he said. "We wanted a centralised system that’s out-of-the-box, with automated management, simple data entry, and instant visibility."

The company implemented CA EcoSoftware to help find out how much carbon its widespread operations are emitting, and find cost-effective ways to meet the company's goal. Tesco rolled out the software in August, and has been testing it for the last month and training staff.

Tesco’s move also comes ahead of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), a mandatory carbon trading system that will come into effect next April, affecting large companies. Those that exceed their allowance will lose out financially.

In spite of the short timeframe before the CRC begins, Tesco was not alone in using spreadsheets to monitor its carbon emissions, analysts noted this week at a roundtable event in London on the CRC.

David Metcalfe, director at green analyst house Verdantix, said research showed 63 percent of firms still use spreadsheets to document carbon management. "This makes it very difficult for businesses to work out their emissions,” he said. "A lot of firms aren’t ready for the CRC and there’s going to be a panic."