Environmental reporting should be encouraged by carrot rather than stick, says audit expert

Gerry Acher, a partner at KPMG, said incentives, such as tax breaks, should be used to encourage companies to embed green reporting methods into their corporate cultures.

His remarks follow complaints from an all-party Commons committee that the government has backtracked on election pledges by failing to introduce taxes on pesticides, aggregates and fossil fuels.

Acher was also speaking before the first meeting of the working group next Friday which will set the agenda for coming debates.

‘At the moment there are no significant incentives and there are no penalties. The question we are addressing is can we introduce a change without draconian measures from government.

‘I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be any taxes. But if you are going to have them there should be incentives too,’ he said.

Sustainable development and its implications for business have been on the agenda of government since the general election when ‘green’ policies became a central plank of Labour’s election campaign.

Acher said that a business that looked after its resources made for a more efficient company but in a recent speech claimed too many companies only paid ‘lip service’ to environmental reporting.

‘If you cannot measure it you cannot manage it and if you cannot manage it you will never extract value for your shareholders.’

United Utilities won ACCA’s environmental reporting award last week. But Acher added: ‘Too many of the Footsie 350 companies although commenting on environmental matters pay little more than lip service to environmental reporting.’

Related reading

aidan-brennan kpmg