A government spokesman this week indicated that a threat of legislation, compelling companies to produce green reports if they do not take voluntary action, still stands.
Environment secretary Michael Meacher could also move to name and shame offending companies. ‘We have often said that if companies do not do this voluntarily we might have to introduce legislation,’ said a spokesman.Tony Blair gave the FTSE-350 a year in October 2000 to begin including environmental reports with their annual accounts.
It is estimated that perhaps only a third of companies will have produced a report by next month’s deadline, but the government is yet to say what action it will take in response to failure.
There is particular disappointment among experts in accountancy who have tracked the behaviour of companies tested by the Blair challenge. Rachel Jackson, social and environment manager at ACCA, said: ‘The deadline is almost up and it’s obvious that the challenge is not going to be met by a large number of the companies. We are watching very closely what happens next.’
This year Shell International took joint top honours with the Cooperative Bank in ACCA’s annual awards for environmental reports. At the ceremony Meacher named and shamed, among others, Reuters, Sage, Imperial Tobacco and United News and Media for inadequate reports.
ACCA has long advocated making environmental reporting mandatory but the government appears to have resisted the move despite threats.
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