But the study of over 500 FTSE All-share companies also reveals that only a minority of companies are providing environmental statistics in line with Government guidance and that the quality of information is still very varied and in some cases basic.
The Environment Agency is urging all UK businesses to report on their emissions and discharges to air, land and water, their energy and water use and their environmental fines . This would ensure that users of reports can assess the performance of a single company over time and relative to its competitors.
Environmental Disclosures, the Environment Agency’s third major review of environmental reporting by leading businesses, found that 99 per cent of companies made a reference to an environmental issue in their 2009-2010 annual reports and accounts.
A total of 67 per cent of companies surveyed reported on at least one of three environmental key performance indicators – carbon emissions, water use and waste disposal.
The report also shows that concern about the effects of climate change on global economies and resource scarcity are rising up the boardroom agenda with more than 60 per cent of companies now disclosing statistical information on their energy use and climate change impacts, 41 per cent on waste and 25 per cent on water usage.
Environment Agency Chief Executive Paul Leinster said: “More businesses are being open about their environmental risks, but it is a concern that there is still a wide variation in the quality of reporting and that less than one in three businesses surveyed provided data in line with Defra guidance.
“The increasing financial significance of many environmental risks and opportunities means that now more than ever investors need clear, comparable environmental information to help them decide where to invest their money. Businesses that measure their environmental impacts and risks are also better placed to manage and reduce them.”
The report includes 11 examples of good environmental reporting, including insurance group Aviva and utility company Scottish & Southern.
Environmental Disclosures concludes that further progress could be made towards transparent environmental reporting if more companies followed Government guidelines to measure, manage and disclose absolute quantities of energy and water use, greenhouse gas emissions, waste and other environmental risks in their annual reports and accounts.
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