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A survey by NIVRA, the Dutch professional accountants’ organisation set out to provide a snapshot of the state of the art of corporate environmental management (CEM) within Europe’s largest companies. The CEM model was used to evaluate six parameters of a company’s corporate environmental management general; environmental policy; risk analysis; management responsibility; internal and external information and communication; and environmental performance monitoring.

The report concludes that “progress is sound but slow”. So far, it is the less demanding areas of CEM that have received most attention while the more difficult and challenging issues are still largely uncharted territories, it says. “A lot of hard work still remains to be done, particularly in the subjects of stakeholder engagement, product stewardship (eco﷓balance and LCA), consistent environmental information systems and strategic financial planning,” says the report.

Based on the research, NIVRA believes that if there is to be a profound change in the way in which large business organisations approach responsibilities for their environmental stewardship, a greater sense of urgency must be instilled into the minds of European business leaders, policy makers and political leaders.

The survey rated the top company for CEM policies as retailer, Otto Versand of Germany. It was followed by British Energy, Bayer (Germany), BAT Industries (UK), Volkswagen (Germany), Portucel (Portugal), National Power (UK), SKF (Sweden), Gullspång Group (Sweden )and Yorkshire Electricity Group (UK). Overall, the leading countries were Sweden, Austria and Germany, with Norwegian, Belgian and Spanish firms lagging behind.

The method used to compile the report used a five﷓stage model of corporate environmental management and a postal questionnaire sent to 650 companies taken from The Times’ top 1000 listings. These included companies in 18 economic sectors in 15 countries.

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