In touting the new environmental reporting obligations for listed companies (see last post), Pan Yue noted that “of all listed companies on the mainland, only half included environment performance in their 2006 annual reports. Even for those which did touch on the issue, the quality of reporting was generally poor and cannot help shareholders.” I did a search of Chinese company environmental disclosures for a recent speech, and would certainly echo Mr. Pan’s comments.
Many MNCs now have an “environmental stewardship” page with a picture of a man in a swamp taking a water sample while an alligator looks on appreciatively and the smokeless stacks of the factory peek up in the distance behind the Cypress trees and a link to a 900 page “sustainability” report. In China what I soon discovered was that even when a corporation included an “environmental” section on its website it was often referring to its landscaping or even the interior elegance of its headquarters’ building. Here’s a typical picture:
I remember this was from a chemical company’s site, but I forget what type of chemicals. I have to assume they were in the fertilizer business because that lawn is sweet and something has really perked up the potted plants by the entrance. As a West Virginian parking cars in the front yard doesn’t strike me as unusual, but with just one there is does give the impression that headquarters may be a bit understaffed.
Among the better Chinese reporters was Baosteel Group which has published a thick sustainability report, the 2005 version of which received a A for “intent” and a C for overall execution from the Roberts Environmental Center, Claremont McKenna College Unfortunately, it may be resting on its laurels. I just checked the Baosteel website and found its “Green Baosteel” page was a little heavy on the landscape shots which perhaps explains the D- the current page receives from the Roberts Environmental Center.