Climate change reporting - the new challenge for business says ACCA
New report published today
09 Aug 2007
Businesses have to improve considerably reporting on the impacts their operations and products have on climate change, a UK report published today (9 August) by ACCA reveals. The study will be launched in Hong Kong, where the world’s leading environmental campaigner, Vice President Al Gore, will address an ACCA event on climate change.
The report, Improving Climate Change Reporting by ACCA and the FTSE Group, assesses the performances of 42 UK companies which are renowned as leading environmental reporters. Businesses, especially energy-intensive companies, are now expected to disclose how they are mitigating their contributions to climate change in terms of policies, targets, product innovation, risk management and initiatives to reduce gas emissions.
Yet the results of the research were mixed. Some key findings included:
- While 80% of the companies surveyed include a climate change policy statement, only 25% of those with a high product impact include a product climate change policy, with only 7% having a named senior person responsible for this.
- While 57% disclosed short– or medium-term targets for carbon emissions, only 43% provided long-term (over 5 years) targets while, disappointingly, no organisation disclosed any product targets.
- More encouragingly, 89% provided some form of carbon data in their reporting. Over half had this verified independently.
Roger Adams, ACCA executive director – technical, said: 'The report does not make entirely comfortable reading. The companies we analysed included many of the leading sustainability and CSR (Corporate & Social Responsibility) reporters but while particular issues were handled well, no single company was found to be reporting evenly across all the key climate change issues – especially those relating to product impacts and initiatives to reduce carbon emissions. And reporting, even at this patchy level, is not widely practised or monitored.'
Examples of good reporting highlighted by the report included:
- Use of quantitative data on carbon emissions - Centrica reported not only on its emissions but also on its use of the European Union’s Emission Trading Scheme allocation permits, which allows investors to see the financial impact of its carbon trading. BG Group broke down the emissions by source, while Anglo American provided an individual breakdown of each of its sites.
- Context – Transport for London provided a clear description of the organisation’s impacts and reasons for trends in its climate change performance.
- Management – National Grid set a long-term target of 60% reduction of its emissions by 2050 in the context of government targets, which helps align collective expectations about the challenge ahead.
Roger Adams said: 'We have produced a series of recommendations in the report. These include: policy – where companies need to address more fully the specific climate change issues relevant to their sector and operations; products – companies whose products give rise to significant carbon emissions need to report and allocate responsibility for them more clearly; and generally better disclosure of targets, context, clearer communication of issues and more external verification.'
'The report is one of the first to address the issues of climate change reporting from an accounting perspective. It is the latest step in the development of sustainability reporting which ACCA has been engaged in for nearly 20 years.'
He added: 'Since the late 1980s, things have moved at a rapid pace. Reporting has developed from basic impact on society and the economy through the initial concept of ‘non-financial’ reporting to an acceptance of the need for external verification and is now moving to metrics to assess impacts on climate change. Reports such as the one we are publishing today will help to bring transparency and clarity to the issue of climate change so that regulators and politicians will be able to assess the adequacy of the corporate sector’s response to this increasingly-recognised threat to our common future.'
To download the report please click on the link on the left hand side under 'related documents'.
For more information, please contact:
Ian Welch, ACCA Head of Corporate Communications
Tel: +44 20 7059 5729/+44 7739 862928