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 NEW YORK, Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Corporate America and companies in leading nations throughout the business world are giving added attention to environmental issues. No longer is the media alone in covering the environment; increasingly, the subject is covered in corporate annual reports.
 A worldwide study by KPMG Peat Marwick, revealed that 58 percent of the companies surveyed referred to environmental issues in their annual reports. These comments most commonly appeared in core sections of annual reports -- the Directors Reports and Management Discussion & Analysis. Like all information in these sections, the environmental news must be verified by a company's financial auditors to ensure it is consistent with that corporation's financial statements.
 "Around the world, environmental news is moving into the mainstream of corporate reporting," said Larry Lott, partner in charge of KPMG's Environmental Practice Group. "It is still in its infancy, but the independent verification and reporting of environmental information is likely to become as common as the annual audit and announcement of a company's financial figures."
 The KPMG survey shows, however, significant differences in current reporting practices among businesses based in different countries. U.S., Canadian and U.K. companies, for example, were most likely to publish an environmental report separate from the annual report. European companies -- notably those in the U.K. and France -- were most likely to publish environmental policy statements.
 Despite the new prominence given to environmental issues, and pressures from stakeholders and regulators, the KPMG survey indicates environmental reporting has much room for growth and improvement:
 -- Only 18 percent of respondents provided hard quantitative data on their environmental performance -- typically, information on the costs of environmental investments or fines,
 -- Only 7 percent of respondents recorded environmental costs as a specific item in their financial statements,
 -- Only 15 percent of respondents issued supplemental environmental reports to their corporation's annual report.
 The annual reports analyzed by KPMG varied widely in the quantity and type of environmental disclosures they contained. "In some annual reports, the discussion of environmental issues was vague and non- committal," said Lott, "while others included detailed data to support their comments."
 The survey of 690 leading corporations in 10 countries showed that certain industries with significant environmental issues were most likely to publish environmental reports. These industries included: oil and gas, forestry, chemical and utilities.
 The KPMG survey concludes that the quality of environmental reporting will improve as the sophistication of readers increases. Lott believes, "As environmental management systems are designed and implemented, companies can set targets and produce data to demonstrate success in implementing environmental controls."
 KPMG's U.S. survey covered the top 100 corporations on the Business Week 1,000 list. The international survey comprised the leading companies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, and Denmark. KPMG reviewed the annual reports and supplemental environmental reports of the survey respondents. In the U.S. the survey also included a review of disclosures within the Management Discussion and Analysis of the Form 10K.
 KPMG is the world's largest professional services firm with more than $6 billion in annual revenues. The global leader in providing accounting and consulting services, KPMG has more than 6,000 partners and 70,000 professionals serving clients through 1,100 offices in 800 cities across 125 countries. In the U.S., KPMG partners and professionals deliver a wide range of value-added assurance, tax, international, and performance improvement services to clients doing business in the following markets: financial services; manufacturing, retailing and distribution; health care and life sciences; information and communications; government services; higher education, research and other not-for-profits; energy; and personal financial planning.
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 /CONTACT: Kevin Kelly of KPMG Peat Marwick, 212-909-5108/


GK-CK -- NY118 -- 4608 11/15/93 15:43 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 15, 1993

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