Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Firms show ‘staggering’ lack of credibility

May 2010

Most of the UK’s largest companies lack credibility on the claims they make about their carbon emissions, and most seek no external verification for the environmental data they issue.

Research by the Carbon Smart environmental consultancy, which examined the assurance statements published with the sustainability reports of all FTSE350 companies, says less than a quarter produce assurance details and about a fifth of these are not independent or based on a recognised standard.

Although the report says most FTSE350 environmental data ‘lacks credibility and verification’, carbon emissions reporting is even worse than average – only 38 companies in the index clearly state that data has been verified.

Companies that follow best practice by providing clear statements showing full engagement with independent assurers included HSBC, Kingfisher and Reed Elsevier. WH Smith, Man Group and Premier Oil were among the worst performers.

Carbon Smart has called for an assurance standard ‘that brings consistency to disclosure and reporting’ so that investors receive information on which they can rely.

Ben Murray, Carbon Smart’s managing director, said: ‘These results are extremely worrying. Verified data is the only credible way to assess whether we are actually lowering our emissions and meeting our targets as a country. Currently we don’t have the data to make that assessment.

‘It is staggering that companies think they can carry on like this. Investors would not accept a financial report which had not been audited. Why would anyone think they’d accept carbon data at face value?’

Carbon Smart | UK & NI Ireland | Assurance/Verification

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