Danish green reports yield mixed results

Review of corporate environmental reporting law finds firms more informed, public not

Stringent Danish corporate green reporting requirements have raised environmental awareness in industry but have not done the same for the general public, according to a review of the 1995 law by the Danish environmental protection agency. Under the law, 1,200 of Denmark's most environmentally significant firms are required to make annual reports on their key emissions to water, air and soil as well as disclosing the amount of energy, water and raw materials they use. A first round of reporting was completed in 1997 (ENDS Daily 25 August 1997), while the EPA's review is based mainly on reports submitted in 1998. It concludes that a majority of accounts meet the law's requirements, though with significant variation, while about 10% "give a decidedly defective picture of the environmental burdens". The review finds that companies engaged in the process have generally benefited: 40% reported achieving environmental improvements; 60% of firms involving employees in the process say this has had a positive effect, while half the companies surveyed say that the benefits of reporting equal the costs, and some claim "concrete financial benefits". The biggest defect identified in the review is a poor degree of engagement of the public, which was one of the law's main objectives, with some firms reporting a "disturbingly low level of demand" for their completed accounts.

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