How green is my company?

The environmentally friendly accountant is here to stay

The growth in interest in corporate environmental accountability seems to parallel the interest that has been shown in corporate governance. Largely unknown at the beginning of the decade, voluntary corporate environmental reporting has progressed considerably in a short space of time to the point where, according to a recent KPMG international survey, three out of four large companies mention environmental issues in the annual report to shareholders, and one in four now issues a separate environmental performance report.

In addition, since the end of April, some 800 companies in Europe have registered under the EC Eco Management and Audit Scheme, or Emas.

The Association of Certified and Corporate Accountants (Acca) has its own Environmental Award scheme, which began in 1991 with the purpose of identifying and rewarding innovative examples of corporate environmental reporting. The success of the UK awards and the growing international recognition of the importance of environmental reporting culminated, in 1996, with Acca and the equivalent bodies in the Netherlands and Denmark, Royal Nivra and the FSR agreeing to join forces on a European award scheme.

In the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands, the number of companies entering for their countries' awards has steadily increased. Similar schemes now operate in Canada, South Africa and New Zealand. It is hoped that schemes in Sweden and Norway will be drawn into the joint European award by next year.

If not yet completely come of age, then environmental reporting is surely well and truly into its adolescence.

Most organisations make an impact on the environment and it is important that they should be trying to assess and reduce that impact, and move away from unsustainability. The accountancy profession can and should try to help.

Environmental compliance is expensive and many companies may see only the costs and not the many financial benefits which flow from being a good environmental citizen.

Those benefits include, but are not limited to, recycling revenues, reduced costs through waste reduction, avoided penalties and taxes (such as the UK landfill tax), enhanced profits through eco-efficiency achievements, new revenue streams through access to new markets, reduced insurance costs and lower borrowing costs.

Financial accountants are well qualified to help companies begin to quantify and report the financial consequences of improved environmental performance. The financial auditing profession is ideally placed to assist in the development of the environmental auditing and verification methodologies which will enhance the level of assurance which users can draw from audited environmental statements.

I think it is significant that it is the accountancy profession in Europe and North America which has led the way in encouraging and developing the practice of corporate environmental reporting.

Acca, Royal Nivra and the FSR have each been active, both on their own account and collectively through the Environmental Task Force of the European Federation of Accountants (FEE), in raising the environmental awareness of accountants.

As far as my association is concerned, however, presenting awards for good practice is only part of our work to further the environmental cause. Acca has just published "A Guide to Environment and Energy Reporting". The publication is a review of current best practice, and is an essential reference text for those approaching environmental reporting and accounting for the first time.

In addition to our research into environmental issues, we are also planning to green the Acca syllabus to make sure that environmental issues play a significant part in the education and training of all Chartered Certified Accountants. Acca is also looking at the area of social and ethical reporting, accounting and auditing.

Corporate governance is a broad canvas which is only partly coloured in at present. With the report of the Cadbury Committee, the accountancy profession in the UK has contributed significantly to the development of a framework for reporting on the financial aspects of corporate governance. The accountancy profession has also been influential in the development of environmental reporting techniques.

Social and ethical issues represent the third element of what John Elkington calls the "triple bottom line" - an overall corporate accountability that is expressed in financial, environmental and social terms.

Working with the newly established Institute for Social and Ethical AccountAbility, Acca hopes to develop a new guidance framework on social and ethical accounting, auditing and reporting - a framework which will complete the corporate governance canvas and which will be highly relevant, both for the new millennium and to the drive towards sustainability in its broadest sensen

Roger Adams is Acca's technical and research head.

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

Arts and Entertainment
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel your sales role is l...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £100,000: SThree: If you would like to work fo...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission £100k +: SThree: Trainee Recru...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes