Denmark to expand corporate reporting rules

EPA reports favourable response to initial consultation, moves towards autumn legal proposal

The Danish government is moving to link the country's system of mandatory annual corporate environmental reports more closely to the granting of environmental permits, according to the Danish environmental protection agency (EPA). A legislative proposal is due to be put before parliament this autumn and should be fully in place within a year, the agency said today.

Annual "green accounts" are compulsory for 1,200 of the most environmentally significant Danish companies under a law passed in 1995. The proposed new rules should turn the system into a sort of "environmental tax return," according to environment ministry Svend Auken. The government also wants to increase public awareness of the reports after a survey last year demonstrated a "disturbingly low" level of demand (ENDS Daily 28 June 1999).

Under the revised rules, companies covered by the law will have to review not just immediate environmental impacts at production sites but also wider issues, such as choice of raw materials, resource management, and use of transport.

Reports will be linked more strongly with Denmark's environmental permitting system for industry. In addition, local authorities will have to comment on whether a green report confirms their own view of a company's environmental performance. Companies will also have to reveal whether they make environmental demands on their suppliers and sub-contractors.

The EPA is reviewing comments on its initial draft and says reaction has been largely favourable. Industry, however, is unhappy about proposals to require notification of use of any substances on Denmark's "undesirable" list, and this issue may be left open for parliament to decide. Environmental groups want more requirements on product information.

The EPA cautions that both issues could prove difficult for smaller and lower-profile companies to tackle. So too could trade unions' desire for the new law to address social and ethical issues. "We've been keen to start at a very practical level with green reporting and let it grow," an official said.

Follow Up:
Danish EPA, tel: +45 32 66 01 00, and English-language press release, including links to background information.

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