DENMARK: Consumer trust the focus of changes to corporate environmental reporting
Denmark's system of mandatory environmental reporting by about 1,200 companies has been evaluated after two years of operation. Changes to the system have been presented to Parliament.
Central to the changes proposed by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the issue of consumer trust. “The problem is that certain stakeholders don’t trust the reports,” a Danish EPA official told edie.
To improve public confidence, the Danish EPA has suggested that companies’ environmental reports be verified by local environmental authorities – the same authorities that issue companies’ discharge permits. The EPA believes that the public will trust the reports more if they see that an environmental authority has assessed their contents.
Other changes to the programme include:
- reports showing emission levels over several years, so that readers can see any changes in historical trends
- linking the reports directly to IPPC regulations, so that data from the reports can be sent to the EU’s database on IPPC compliance
- requirement for the reports to show how employees are being involved in environmental work
- requirement that reports include information on what environmental demands are issued to suppliers
“We don’t expect that there’ll be too much talk about [the proposed changes] from industry,” says the Danish EPA official. A working party that includes representatives from Danish industry has been meeting regularly and industry has been aware of the likely contents of the review of the green accounting system for some time.
The Danish EPA foresees an eventual expansion of the scheme to include more than the current 1,200 corporate participants. “When this new concept has been generally accepted and people have got used to it, we’ll look to expanding the programme,” says the official. “It will probably take two or three years.”