Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 80, Issue 4, pp 697–710 | Cite as

Environmental Reporting: The U.K. Water and Energy Industries: A Research Note



Last year the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) released a new set of revised guidelines upon environmental reporting practices for U.K companies. Two industrial sectors were selected – the Water industry and the Energy industry – and the most recent Environmental Reports produced by companies in these sectors were subjected to content analysis where the coding framework was heavily based on the DEFRA guidelines. Results are reported for the two industries separately and the two industries are also compared. Whilst sectoral differences were found it was clear that many companies addressed most of the issues raised in the guidelines. However, others did not. Whilst no conclusions can be made about the quality of reporting the main areas of emphasis in each sector can be determined.


content anlaysis environmental reporting energy industry water industry 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adams C., Hill W. Y, Roberts C. (1995) Corporate Social Reporting Practices in Western Europe: Legitimating Corporate Behaviour. British Accounting Review 30(1):1–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adams C. A., Roberts C. B. (1995) Corporate Ethics, an Issue Worthy of Report?. Accounting Forum 19:128–42Google Scholar
  3. Bowman E. H., Haire M. (1976) Social Impact Disclosure and Corporate Annual Reports. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 1(1):69–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Buhr N. (1998) Environmental Performance, Legislation and Annual Report Disclosure: The Case of Acid Rain and Falconbridge. Accounting, auditing and Accountability Journal 11(1):163–90Google Scholar
  5. Burritt R. L., Welch S. (1997) Australian Australian Commonwealth Entities: An Analysis of their Environmental Disclosures. Abacus 33(1):69–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clarke, J. and M. Gibson-Sweet: 1999, ‹The Use of Corporate Social Disclosures in the Management of Reputation and Legitimacy: A Cross Sectoral Analysis of UK Top 100 Companies’, Business Ethics: A European Review 8(1) , 5–13.Google Scholar
  7. Cowen S. S., Ferreri L. B., Parker L. D. (1987) The Impact of Corporate Characteristics on Social Responsibility Disclosure: A Typology and Frequency-Based Analysis. Accounting, Organizations and Society 12(2):111–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cunningham, S. and D. Gadenne: 2003, 'Do Corporations Perceive Mandatory Publication of Pollution Information for Key Stakeholders as a Legitimacy Threat', Journal of Environmental Assessment and Policy Management 5(4), 523–549.Google Scholar
  9. Deegan C., Gordan B. (1996) A Study of Environmental Disclosure Policies of Australian Corporations. Accounting and Business Research 26(3):187–199Google Scholar
  10. Deegan C., Rankin M. (1996) Do Australian Companies Report Environmental News Objectively? An analysis of Environmental Disclosures by Firms Prosecuted Successfully by the Environmental Protection Agency. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal 9(2):52–69Google Scholar
  11. DEFRA (2005) Environmental Reporting: General Guidelines. DEFRA publications, LondonGoogle Scholar
  12. Dewey M. E. (1983) Coefficients of Agreement. British Journal of Psychiatry 143:487–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. The Economist: 2004, ‹Corporate Storytelling; Non-financial reporting’, Nov 6, Vol. 373, p. 13Google Scholar
  14. ENDS (2001) Top Firms Ignore PM’s Call for Green Reports. ENDS Report 323(33):4–5Google Scholar
  15. ENDS (2003a) Meacher Gives up on Environmental Reporting. ENDS Report 337:39Google Scholar
  16. ENDS (2003b) Environmental Reporting by Top UK Firms Passes 50% Mark. ENDS Report 344:8–9Google Scholar
  17. ENDS (2004) Environmental Costs Accounting Still a Rarity in Industry. ENDS Report 358:8–9Google Scholar
  18. ENDS (2005) DEFRA Consults on Green Reporting Guidelines. ENDS 366:41–42Google Scholar
  19. ENDS: 2006, `Environmental Management Rises up Invertors’ Priority List', Vol. 374, p. 13.Google Scholar
  20. Environment Agency: 2004, Environmental Disclosures in the Annual Reports and Accounts of companies in the FTSE All-share (Environment Agency, Bristol).Google Scholar
  21. Ernst & Ernst: 1978, Social Responsibility Disclosure, 1978 Survey (Ernst and Ernst, Cleveland, Ohio, USA).Google Scholar
  22. Gray R., Kouhy R., Lavers S. (1995a) Methodological Themes: Constructing a Research Database of Social and Environmental Reporting by UK Companies. Accounting , Auditing and Accountability Journal 8(2):78–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gray R., Kouhy R., Lavers S. (1995b) Corporate Social and Environmental Reporting: A Review of the Literature and a Longitudinal Study of UK Disclosure. Accounting , Auditing and Accountability Journal 8(2):47–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Guthrie, J. and M. R. Mathews: 1985, `Corporate Social Accounting in Australasia', in L. E. Preston (ed.), Research in Corporate Social Performance and Policy, Vol. 7, pp. 251–77.Google Scholar
  25. Guthrie J., Parker L. (1990) Corporate Social Disclosure Practice: A Comparative International Analysis. Advances in Public Interest Accounting 3:159–75Google Scholar
  26. Hackston D., Milne M. (1996) Some Determinants of Social and Environmental Disclosures in New Zealand Companies. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal 9(1):77–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Holland L., Foo Y. (2003) Differences in Environmental Reporting Practices in the UK and the US: The Legal and Regulatory Context. British Accounting Review 35:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hunt R. (1986) Percent Agreement, Pearson’s Correlation, and Kappa as Measures of Inter-Examiner Reliability. Journal of Dental Research 65(2):128–130Google Scholar
  29. Jaggi B., Zhao R. (1996) Environmental Performance and Reporting Perceptions of Managers and Accounting Professional in Hong Kong. International Journal of Accounting 31(3):333–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Krippendorff K. (1978) Reliability of Binary Attribute Data. Biometrics 34:142–144Google Scholar
  31. Krippendorff K. (1987) Association, Agreement and Equity. Quality and Quantity 21:109–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lombard, M., Snyder-Duch, J. and C. Bracken: 2004, Practical Resources for Assessing and Reporting Inter-Coder Reliability in Content Analysis Research Projects,
  33. Milne M., Adler R. (1999) Exploring the Reliability of Social and Environmental Disclosures Content Analysis. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal. 12(2):237–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Patten D. D. (1991) Exposure, Legitimacy and Social Disclosure. Journal of Accounting and Public Policy 10(4):297–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Raar J. (2002) Environmental Initiatives: Towards Triple-bottom Line Reporting. Corporate Communications 7(3):169–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Stray S., Ballantine J. (2000) A Sectoral Comparison off Corporate Environmental Reporting and Disclosure. Journal of Eco-Management and Auditing 7(4):165–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Trotman, K.: 1979, ‹Social Responsibility Disclosures by Australian Companies’, Chartered Accountant in Australia, March, pp. 24–8Google Scholar
  38. Trotman K., Bradley G. W. (1981) Associations Between Social Responsibility Disclosure and Characteristics of Companies. Accounting, Organizations and Society 6(4):355–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wiseman J. (1982) An Evaluation of Environmental Disclosures Made Incorporate Annual Reports. Accounting, Organizations and Society 7(1):53–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Warwick Business SchoolUniversity of WarwickCoventryU.K.

Personalised recommendations