More praise for Puma’s environmental reporting and mixed news for carbon trading

Puma has bite

The Puma environmental profit and loss (EP&L) accounting exercise, which places a financial value on the company’s environmental impacts, is a credible approach that could underpin a future international standard for companies to value “national capital”, an expert panel has found. The panel, including academics, consultants PwC, and organisations such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and WWF, was commissioned by Puma’s owner, PPR Group.

The panel found that the EP&L has proved useful to Puma’s managers and investors, and is a “step in the right direction to promote the sustainable use of natural capital”. The EP&L exercise should be aligned with other sustainability initiatives, such as the International Integrated Reporting Council and the Global Reporting Initiative, the panel says. Puma’s EP&L for 2012 is expected in April or May 2013.

Carbon crunch

Troubles in the European Union’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) were behind a 36% decline in the value of the global carbon market in 2012 compared to 2011, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Although trading volumes were up – by 26% – the average price of a tonne of CO2 was only $7.50 in 2012, compared to $14.77 in 2011, Bloomberg says.

The price crash was especially marked in the EU ETS, the world’s largest carbon trading scheme, because of a glut of carbon allowances. Despite Europe’s problems, however, the prognosis is that both trading volumes and prices will rise. New trading schemes in Australia and California will make a significant impact on the global carbon market. The 10.7bn tonnes of carbon traded in 2012 already represents one third of worldwide carbon emissions.

Reporting credibility questioned

Sustainability reporting by electricity companies, including E.ON, EDF and National Grid, might be less than it seems, according to an analysis by Dutch non-profit Somo and the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU). The analysis looks at the degree to which electricity firms claim to report Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) indicators, and the extent to which this information is actually found in their sustainability reports.

“Systematic, widespread and significant” discrepancies were found, Somo/EPSU say. A review of 73 instances in which a company claimed to report fully on a GRI indicator found missing information in 44 cases. Even independently-assured sustainability reports had gaps, SOMO/EPSU say, adding that “these discrepancies diminish the accuracy and credibility of the GRI”.

The SOMO/EPSU report is available here

Journalist railroaded

Denmark is in the grips of an unusual corporate ethics scandal. The national rail operator, DSB, stung by criticisms from a transport journalist, secretly paid a PR agency to employ him on a freelance basis, keeping him so busy that he no longer had time to investigate DSB. The journalist, Lars Abild, worked for the Waterfront PR agency for two years, completely unaware of the plan to sideline him. He is said to have been paid about £4000 per month. DSB and Waterfront also allegedly exchanged confidential health information about Abild, potentially a criminal offence. DSB has promised an investigation. Politicians have lined up to criticise the publicly-owned company.

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