Incentives for green companies.

Businesses should not be faced with ‘draconian’ measures to force them into adopting environmental financial reporting, according to a member of a government working group looking at the issue. 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 the government? ‘I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be any taxes. But if you are going to have them, there should also 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 he claimed too many companies talked about green reporting without talking action. ‘If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it, and if you cannot manage it you will never extract value for your shareholders,’ he said. United Utilities won ACCA’s environmental reporting award last week. But Acher added that: ‘Too many of the FTSE-350 companies, although commenting on environmental matters, pay little more than lip service to environmental reporting.’

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