Sustainablog

This blog will cover some news items related to Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility, Stewardship, Environmental management, etc.

25.6.05

Glaciers v gold: Public opinion drives a shift in environmental policy

Glaciers v gold
Jun 23rd 2005 | SANTIAGO
From The Economist print edition

Public opinion drives a shift in environmental policy

Reuters

Down the effluent-rich swanee

Get article background
LIKE many Latin American countries, Chile has recently begun to care more
about the environment. A newish law requires promoters of big investment
projects to submit environmental-impact studies. But it is ministers,
rather than the government's National Commission for the Environment, who
have the final say on whether projects should go ahead. That is starting
to worry Chileans—and it is causing problems for companies who thought
that government approval was enough.
The most controversial case concerns a $700m wood-pulp plant opened last
year near Valdivia, in southern Chile, by Arauco, a subsidiary of the
Angelini group, a big family-run conglomerate. In January, it was halted
for a month by the commission. Now it has shut down indefinitely, after
public protests and media pressure led environmental officials to tighten
its operating permit.
The plant is bigger than authorised, and it was built beside a protected
wetland into which it pumps its effluent. “It's like putting a lavatory in
your living room,” says Fernando Dougnac, an environmental lawyer.
Protests flared last year when some of the wetland's black-necked swans, a
relatively rare species, started to die and others flew away. The firm
denies any responsibility for this. But two independent reports found that
the effluent probably killed off weeds on which the swans feed.
A second case concerns Pascua-Lama, a $1.4 billion open-pit gold mine
promoted by Barrick Gold, a Canadian firm. It would sit astride the Andean
watershed between Chile and Argentina. In 2001, Barrick obtained an
environmental permit, but shelved the project because the gold price was
low. In December, it resubmitted an environmental-impact study for the
(slightly-modified) project. It has yet to gain approval. “Getting a
permit in Chile now is probably more difficult than in Quebec and
Ontario,” says John McDonough, Barrick's boss for Chile and Argentina.
Farmers worry that the Pascua-Lama project will raise the acidity of
rivers whose waters irrigate export crops of grapes. Greens oppose
Barrick's plan to remove part of three small glaciers. Environmental
officials have asked Barrick to put part of the mine underground to
protect the glaciers. As with the Valdivia plant, the outcome is
uncertain.
What is clear is that public opinion is starting to drive environmental
policy. Under the 1973-90 dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet,
business groups always got their own way. Now, a democratic Chile is
searching for a new balance between development and the environment.

Green belts won't work when they are made of elastic

Land grab
Jun 23rd 2005
From The Economist print edition

Green belts won't work when they are made of elastic
ENGLAND's countryside retains its beauty partly thanks to green belts,
stretches of building-free land that hem in the country's larger cities.
Their purpose is to prevent the kind of sprawl that has seen Los Angeles
spread 60 miles from its centre—a situation which if replicated in Britain
would mean the suburbs of London nudging the English Channel.
But as cities' populations swell, planners are finding it hard to keep off
the grass. This is a cause of anguish in such places as Menston, a pretty
Yorkshire village bracing itself for 500 new houses on its green belt in
2009. Angela Whittaker, a pensioner whose sitting-room looks out on to
rolling farmland, will soon face high-density housing for Bradford
commuters instead. “I've been here 25 years because of that view,” she
says, pointing towards fields shimmering in the June heat.
Her neighbour is worried about all those new commuters clogging up the
station car park. It is full already, he says; they might end up having to
build an ugly multi-storey garage.
Building on green belts is meant to take place only in “very special
circumstances”. Even so, councils have been blithely granting builders
permission for new developments. Between 2000 and 2003, some 1,070
hectares of green-belt land—about 1,500 football pitches—were converted to
residential use, 8% more than during the previous four years.
This upward trend is all the more surprising given that the total amount
of land converted to residential use in the same period fell by 4%. The
development of the green belt for housing has grown most rapidly in the
crowded South East, where 11% of new residential space was on protected
countryside in 2000, compared with just 5% in 1993.
The government points out that the total amount of green belt has
increased while it has been in power, growing by 19,300 hectares between
1997 and 2003, to a total of 1.7m hectares—13% of England's total area.
This sounds impressive, but it is hardly a measure of success in the
struggle against city sprawl, because the government has sought to offset
the loss of green-belt land in the south by adding to it in the north,
where development pressure is lower. Of the trumpeted 19,300 new hectares,
98.8% are in the North, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber regions.
John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, has talked about having a “very
tough green belt”, but so far he has been toughest in protecting areas
where nobody wants to build anything.
The system of green belts is vulnerable to the incentives it creates.
Because it is supposedly off-limits for building, protected land is cheap.
Developers already buy “strategic land holdings”, which lack planning
permission, in the hope that sooner or later they will be allowed to send
in the bulldozers. Westbury, a large listed building company, has a “land
bank” of 39,200 plots, 57% of which are “strategic”.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England fears this sort of speculative
buying is spreading from the large house builders to general investors
able to buy plots of green-belt land over the internet. It warns that this
will lead to the erosion of planning restrictions, partly because
landowners lobby planners in the hope that their investment will pay off
and partly because absentee landlords are more likely to let their land
fall into neglect, further weakening councils' desire to protect it.
Creating new green belts doesn't solve the weakness of existing ones.
Until planning restrictions are properly enforced, protected land risks
becoming a cheap futures market for developers.

New Reports Pinpoint Climate Options for Building, Electricity Sectors

New Reports Pinpoint Climate Options for Building, Electricity Sectors
GreenBiz.com, 17 June 2005 - The Pew Center on Global Climate Change has
released two new reports identifying technologies and policy options for
reducing GHG reductions in the building and power sectors.
The first report is Towards a Climate-Friendly Built Environment, written
by Marilyn Brown, Frank Southworth and Therese Stovall of Oak Ridge
National Laboratory. The other is U.S. Electric Power Sector and Climate
Change Mitigation, written by Granger Morgan, Jay Apt, and Lester Lave of
Carnegie Mellon University.
The U.S. buildings and electricity sectors -- which together account for
the largest portion of our economy's physical wealth and enable almost
every activity of our daily life -- also account for approximately half of
our nation's CO2 emissions.
Long capital stock turnover, regulatory uncertainty, and diverse and often
competing interests all contribute to the difficulty of reducing GHGs from
these two sectors. These reports find that a portfolio of affordable
technology and policy options exist to completely transform the
high-emitting buildings and electricity sectors to low-GHG emitting
sectors over the next 50 years. However, the long lead time required to
develop new technologies, deploy available technologies, and turn over
capital stock, means that policies need to be launched now to create the
impetus for change. Efforts must be sustained over time to achieve the
deep reductions required.
"The importance of these two sectors to both the U.S. economy and to the
issue of climate change cannot be over-stated," said Eileen Claussen,
president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, "This research shows
that we can achieve enormous reductions in the building and electric
sectors, but only if we craft a clear and comprehensive policy to guide
them."
Some insights that emerge from the reports are:
Policies are needed to enable meaningful GHG reductions from these
sectors. The diverse and fragmented nature of the buildings sector, and
the current state of regulatory uncertainty in the electricity sector
prevent many available GHG reduction options from being adopted in the
market in the absence of policies.
Significant increases in R&D and deployment policies are essential if we
hope to significantly reduce GHGs from these sectors. A significantly
expanded R&D program is needed in the U.S. to develop new technologies,
and deployment policies are needed to push and pull available fuels and
technologies into the market in the near and long term.
An elimination of most GHGs from these sectors is possible over the next
50 years. If managed properly, the electricity sector could undergo a
complete capital stock turnover to low or non-GHG emitting generation
sources over the next 50 years; while buildings in the U.S. could become
net low-GHG energy exporters in the same time frame - but government
policies are essential to provide clear policy direction in order to drive
the massive public and private investments and choices necessary to enable
such a future.
The report is part of the Solutions series, which is aimed at providing
individuals and organizations with tools to evaluate and reduce their
contributions to climate change. In 2003, the Solutions series released
the first of its sectoral reports, Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from
U.S. Transportation, written by David L. Greene of Oak Ridge National
Laboratory and Andreas Schafer of the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. Other Pew Center series focus on domestic and international
policy issues, environmental impacts, and the economics of climate change.

Copies of these Pew Center reports can be downloaded from the
organization's Web site.

24.6.05

Merrill Lynch and World Resources Institute Analyze Climate Change Investment Opportunities

Merrill Lynch and World Resources Institute Analyze Climate Change
Investment Opportunities
SocialFunds.com, 21 June 2005 - A report connecting the dots between
climate change and investment opportunities coming from the World
Resources Institute (WRI), an environmental nongovernmental organization
(NGO) with market expertise, is not surprising. What is surprising is such
a report being jointly produced with mainstream investment bank Merrill
Lynch. This is the case in a report entitled Energy Security & Climate
Change: Investing in the Clean Car Revolution, which was released late
last week.
"The report is novel in two main respects: first off, to our knowledge,
this is the first time a US investment bank has partnered with an
environmental NGO on research," said Fred Wellington, a senior financial
analyst leading WRI's capital markets research team, who contributed to
the report. Interestingly, Merrill Lynch proposed the collaboration to
WRI, not vice-versa, as one might expect. "They are familiar with our
work, and we've had an ongoing dialogue for about a year-and-a-half, but
this report is not a result of us pressuring them to put it out."
"The second way it is interesting is that other investment banks, mostly
out of their European offices, have put out very good research on climate
change, but the Merrill Lynch report makes actionable stock
recommendations on the back of a global analysis of climate change
policies," Mr. Wellington told SocialFunds.com.
The first part of the report examines how energy security and climate
change are driving governmental responses in the form of regulation,
outlining the Kyoto Protocol as well as regulations in the European Union,
US, Canada, Japan, China, and Australia.
"Clearly, there is a discernable trend towards regulating emissions of
carbon dioxide and other tailpipe emissions from the burning of fossil
fuels," state the report authors, led by John Casesa, Merrill Lynch global
auto team coordinator. "As the causes of human-induced climate change
become more generally accepted, policies to reduce GHG emissions will
continue to proliferate."
Another factor driving the auto sector to address energy security and
climate change is demand from consumers, who want more environmentally
friendly cars but do not necessarily want to give up on performance and
features. This poses a technological challenge to the sector.
"This is what we mean by the Clean Car Revolution: in a world of finite
resources, higher consumer expectations are stimulating a technology race
to meet them," the report states. "For investors, solutions to these
challenges present a compelling investment opportunity."
The report provides analysis of the seven companies the Merrill Lynch
global auto team believes are best positioned to capitalize on what it
calls the clean car revolution, including BorgWarner (ticker: BWA),
Hyundai (HYMTF.PK), Magna International (MGA), and Toyota (TM).
"Perhaps the company in our global universe most leveraged to the trends
outlined in this report is Detroit-based BorgWarner Automotive," states
the report, referring to the car components manufacturer. "[A]lmost all of
BorgWarner's key products offer the benefit of higher fuel efficiency
and/or lower emissions."
"We rate BorgWarner Neutral, as the stock's current valuation appears to
reflect the company's attractive growth prospects," the report continues.
After outlining Hyundai's research and development efforts to proactively
deal with environmental regulations, such as focusing on hybrid electric
and fuel cell vehicles, diesel engines, and fuel efficiency enhancements,
the analysts give Hyundai a neutral rating.
Buy ratings go to Magna, primarily on the strength of its metal
hydroforming technology allowing for the production of lighter, stronger,
more fuel-efficient vehicles, and Toyota, the global leader in hybrid
technology according to the analysts.
The report exemplifies the very type of climate change research by
mainstream financial institutions called for by the Investor Network on
Climate Risk (INCR) in its ten-point "Call for Action" issued at the
United Nations summit last month.
"I think this report is the first to come out since the recommendation was
made," said Mr. Wellington, who co-authored a report on climate risk
investment strategies sponsored by INCR, a consortium of two dozen US and
European institutional investors with over $3 trillion in assets.
"However, it is not at all a result of the INCR conference--we at WRI have
been working on this with Merrill Lynch since well before the summit."
The report sets a high water mark for other mainstream investment firms to
best in answering INCR's call.

Merrill Lynch and World Resources Institute Analyze Climate Change Investment Opportunities

Merrill Lynch and World Resources Institute Analyze Climate Change
Investment Opportunities
SocialFunds.com, 21 June 2005 - A report connecting the dots between
climate change and investment opportunities coming from the World
Resources Institute (WRI), an environmental nongovernmental organization
(NGO) with market expertise, is not surprising. What is surprising is such
a report being jointly produced with mainstream investment bank Merrill
Lynch. This is the case in a report entitled Energy Security & Climate
Change: Investing in the Clean Car Revolution, which was released late
last week.
"The report is novel in two main respects: first off, to our knowledge,
this is the first time a US investment bank has partnered with an
environmental NGO on research," said Fred Wellington, a senior financial
analyst leading WRI's capital markets research team, who contributed to
the report. Interestingly, Merrill Lynch proposed the collaboration to
WRI, not vice-versa, as one might expect. "They are familiar with our
work, and we've had an ongoing dialogue for about a year-and-a-half, but
this report is not a result of us pressuring them to put it out."
"The second way it is interesting is that other investment banks, mostly
out of their European offices, have put out very good research on climate
change, but the Merrill Lynch report makes actionable stock
recommendations on the back of a global analysis of climate change
policies," Mr. Wellington told SocialFunds.com.
The first part of the report examines how energy security and climate
change are driving governmental responses in the form of regulation,
outlining the Kyoto Protocol as well as regulations in the European Union,
US, Canada, Japan, China, and Australia.
"Clearly, there is a discernable trend towards regulating emissions of
carbon dioxide and other tailpipe emissions from the burning of fossil
fuels," state the report authors, led by John Casesa, Merrill Lynch global
auto team coordinator. "As the causes of human-induced climate change
become more generally accepted, policies to reduce GHG emissions will
continue to proliferate."
Another factor driving the auto sector to address energy security and
climate change is demand from consumers, who want more environmentally
friendly cars but do not necessarily want to give up on performance and
features. This poses a technological challenge to the sector.
"This is what we mean by the Clean Car Revolution: in a world of finite
resources, higher consumer expectations are stimulating a technology race
to meet them," the report states. "For investors, solutions to these
challenges present a compelling investment opportunity."
The report provides analysis of the seven companies the Merrill Lynch
global auto team believes are best positioned to capitalize on what it
calls the clean car revolution, including BorgWarner (ticker: BWA),
Hyundai (HYMTF.PK), Magna International (MGA), and Toyota (TM).
"Perhaps the company in our global universe most leveraged to the trends
outlined in this report is Detroit-based BorgWarner Automotive," states
the report, referring to the car components manufacturer. "[A]lmost all of
BorgWarner's key products offer the benefit of higher fuel efficiency
and/or lower emissions."
"We rate BorgWarner Neutral, as the stock's current valuation appears to
reflect the company's attractive growth prospects," the report continues.
After outlining Hyundai's research and development efforts to proactively
deal with environmental regulations, such as focusing on hybrid electric
and fuel cell vehicles, diesel engines, and fuel efficiency enhancements,
the analysts give Hyundai a neutral rating.
Buy ratings go to Magna, primarily on the strength of its metal
hydroforming technology allowing for the production of lighter, stronger,
more fuel-efficient vehicles, and Toyota, the global leader in hybrid
technology according to the analysts.
The report exemplifies the very type of climate change research by
mainstream financial institutions called for by the Investor Network on
Climate Risk (INCR) in its ten-point "Call for Action" issued at the
United Nations summit last month.
"I think this report is the first to come out since the recommendation was
made," said Mr. Wellington, who co-authored a report on climate risk
investment strategies sponsored by INCR, a consortium of two dozen US and
European institutional investors with over $3 trillion in assets.
"However, it is not at all a result of the INCR conference--we at WRI have
been working on this with Merrill Lynch since well before the summit."
The report sets a high water mark for other mainstream investment firms to
best in answering INCR's call.

Rules on corporate ethics could help, not hinder, multinationals

Rules on corporate ethics could help, not hinder, multinationals
Financial Times, 21 June 2005 - Most multinational companies automatically
oppose calls for enforceable standards of corporate social responsibility.
Under growing public scrutiny of their behaviour, many western companies
have adopted voluntary codes of business conduct. But for most, the notion
of enforceable standards remains anathema.
Recently, however, some western companies have privately questioned this
posture. They have begun to recognise it might be in their interest to
operate under enforceable standards that apply to all their competitors,
rather than under voluntary ones that, for all practical purposes, apply
only to prominent companies.
Public pressure, whether from activists or the press, has largely driven
interest in corporate social responsibility. But public pressure tends to
focus on highly visible companies, which is fine if a company's
competitors are all large public companies. But if competition comes from
less prominent businesses that can operate under the radar screen of
public attention - the competitive playing field tilts. Well-known
companies, worried about the harm that misconduct could cause their
reputation, must assume the costs of meeting broadly recognised standards
of corporate conduct. For example, a big company might have to accept
paying higher wages associated with employing adults rather than children,
or permitting trades unions to operate freely in its factories.
By contrast, a no-name company, confident that the public will not notice
its misdeeds, may not feel compelled to act so responsibly.
Only enforceable rules, applicable to all companies regardless of
prominence, can avoid this double standard. To a limited extent,
enforceable regulations already exist but their reach is spotty. Some
stock indices, such as FTSE 4Good, require qualifying companies to comply
with basic ethical standards. Certain international financial institutions
make similar demands of their loan beneficiaries. Companies that are
complicit in serious human rights abuses risk liability under laws such as
America's Alien Tort Claims Act. And individual governments, sometimes
prompted by trade agreements, increasingly demand that trading partners
regulate certain corporate conduct. Still, this patchwork of enforceable
rules hardly leaves a competitive environment that is fair and
predictable.
The issue of social responsibility is not the first in which corporations
have recognised the advantage of broad enforceable standards. A similar
dynamic emerged after the US government's adoption in 1977 of the Foreign
Corrupt Practices Act, which made it illegal for companies operating in
the US to bribe foreign officials. That law seemingly left US companies at
a competitive disadvantage because their foreign competitors remained free
to continue securing business through bribery.
After years of complaints, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development in 1997 adopted a treaty requiring all its member states to
criminalise such bribery. According to the OECD, its 30 members account
for some 70 per cent of world exports and 90 per cent of foreign direct
investment. China remains outside the treaty, but as its companies
increasingly operate overseas its exclusion will become legally less
tenable.
The OECD has already begun a similar process in the area of corporate
social responsibility, but its guidelines for multinational enterprises
are, so far, only voluntary.
Using the anti-bribery effort as a model, the OECD should adopt a treaty
requiring member states to enact laws similar to its guidelines that would
be enforceable under national criminal or civil codes, carrying penalties
such as fines or in extreme cases, imprisonment. Like anti-bribery laws,
this national legislation would bind any company operating in that
nation's jurisdiction.
In addition, the United Nations, which has already drafted non-binding
norms on corporate conduct, might provide a forum to negotiate a
universally applicable treaty.
What would enforceable standards look like? One must await treaty
negotiations to answer that question with certainty. In all likelihood,
the purpose of enforceable standards would not be to preclude doing
business in certain countries but to prescribe the minimum standards by
which corporations should conduct themselves in all countries. In that
sense, the standards would reflect recognition that while international
commerce may help alleviate poverty in developing countries, it does so
more effectively if grounded in positive corporate conduct.
In the human rights realm, for instance, enforceable standards would
certainly include the widely recognised core worker rights: the right to
organise and bargain collectively, and freedom from forced labour, child
labour and workplace discrimination. Companies would have to ensure
respect for these rights in their own operations and those of their
suppliers. In some cases, such as China's refusal to permit independent
trades unions, pragmatism may require interim best-practice standards, but
those requirements should be upgraded to international standards as
quickly as possible.
Certain industries would require special rules. For example, extractive
industries, because they often contribute revenue well beyond ordinary
taxation, should face special rules on fiscal transparency to maximise
opportunities for public accountability.
Manufacturing companies might be obliged to avoid sales to a government
once they learn it is using their product for human rights abuse.
Companies operating in conflict zones should be required to take
reasonable steps to avoid complicity in arbitrary violence. Enforceable
standards are unlikely to require a global minimum wage - a move some
developing countries would decry as protectionism. Wage competition would
remain appropriate as long as it is within the context of full respect for
workers' rights to organise and bargain collectively. But governments and
businesses would be prohibited from competing by undercutting workers'
basic rights as a route to lower wages.
Few if any of the standards likely to appear in a treaty on corporate
social responsibility would be difficult for most multinational companies
to embrace. The only thing these companies have to fear is an end to
unfair competition from less savoury competitors. It is time, therefore,
for them to begin publicly advocating enforcement.
The writer is executive director of Human Rights Watch

23.6.05

Hireimmigrants.com media (website launched based on original IBM research)

======================================================
Forwarded note
======================================================

Please see media clippings below on the launch yesterday of
www.hireimmigrants.ca.

This website was based on research done last year by BCS and features IBM
Canada as a best practice leader.

Yalmaz Siddiqui
Senior Consultant
IBM Business Consulting Services
416 549 3522
416 471 4479 (cell)

----- Forwarded by Yalmaz Siddiqui/Ontario/IBM on 06/22/2005 10:23 AM
-----

"Lillian Manea" <lmanea@maytree.com>
06/22/2005 09:55 AM

To
"TriecInfo" <triecinfo@maytree.com>
cc

Subject
TRIEC media flash

Yesterday TRIEC launched hireimmigrants.ca, a website to help employers
recruit, retain and promote immigrants within their workplaces. The
following is a summary of the media articles that feature the site or the
launch event.


New website welcomes immigrant workers, The Globe and Mail
http://www.triec.ca/media/MediaClippings/GlobeJun2205.htm

Website to promote workplace practices for integrating immigrants,
hrreporter.com
http://www.triec.ca/media/MediaClippings/HRReporterJun2105.htm

Getting most out of our workforce, The Toronto Star
http://www.triec.ca/media/MediaClippings/StarJun2105.htm

Unleashing Canada's people power, The National Post
http://www.triec.ca/media/MediaClippings/PostJun2105.htm

Welcome to our economy, The National Post
http://www.triec.ca/media/MediaClippings/PostJun2105-2.htm


Have a great day!
lily

Lillian Manea
Communications Coordinator
Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC)
416.944.2627 x 239
lmanea@maytree.com
www.triec.ca
www.maytree.com
www.TheMentoringPartnership.com

21.6.05

Standards of Corporate Responsibility

Standards of Corporate Responsibility
Article by Mallen Baker
The International Standards Organisation has just completed a summit
meeting in Korea on the future development of the proposed Corporate
Social Responsibility standard ISO 26000. At the same time China has
announced a new responsibility standard for the textiles and garments
industry. Surely such standards represent progress. I wonder.
There are certain things that can be achieved reasonably well with
management systems. Environmental management has shown itself over the
last ten years to be one. After all, ISO 14001 is effectively about
identifying impacts and managing processes to reduce them. Environmental
issues are scientific in nature. Your process will produce a number of
emissions and wastes. Redesigning the process, and improving efficiency,
can reduce these. All you need to do is to apply human ingenuity to the
problems, and then consistently manage and control the processes.

Quality is the same. No point in producing top quality products one time
in three, if consistent monitoring and control of the process means that
you can achieve zero defects.

Both approaches have their detractors, of course. Consistency is not the
same as quality, and a process-driven approach isn’t necessarily as good
as a customer-driven approach. But this is about what kind of system works
best, not whether it is desirable to have a system at all.

Given the world impact of the ISO family to date, we should surely be
enthused and excited about the prospect of – at last – a standard to
define best practice in corporate responsibility into a management system
that can achieve consistency. If one believes that corporate
responsibility is all about how you create policies, objectives and
targets, and then manage the processes to achieve these, then there is a
lot in this. And, of course, there are significant parts of corporate
social responsibility that are served well by this sort of approach.

But it’s not enough. Corporate social responsibility is often about how
you resolve the dilemma of conflicting stakeholder demands that require a
fine judgement. It is very often about leadership, and how a company can
define its place as a shaper of the expectations of its marketplace.

Fundamentally CSR is about relationships. Stakeholders change their minds.
They can punish you today for doing what they demanded yesterday. Building
those relationships – and resolving the dilemmas that present themselves
along the way is really rather more of an art than a science. It’s not
something that easily lends itself to a standards-based approach.

Does this mean that an ISO standard would be of no value? It would be
rather premature to reach this conclusion in advance of the final shape of
the animal being visible. Nevertheless, what would be potentially very
damaging would be for an ISO 26000 to become a badge of ethical quality,
in the way that an ISO 9001 became so widely required by corporate
customers as an easy ‘guarantee’ of quality from suppliers. Of course, the
current description of 26000 is that of 'social responsibility guidelines'
as opposed to a de facto management system standard. Thinking will no
doubt evolve considerably before it is actually published - intended to be
in 2008.

It would be interesting to make some real progress on finding ways to
identify a good company. One of the most important would surely be some
reflection of the ‘corporate personality’. When Enron was busy running all
the best community programmes and environmental management systems, the
only visible signs of a problem in advance of the final collapse were the
stores that appeared occasionally highlighting an aggressive marketplace
style – in short a corporate personality that suggested that any values
base really went skin deep. There are other well feted companies with
sparkling programmes whose business activities spark similar stories
today. These are important intangible indicators. They rather defy a
standards-led approach.

There’s nothing wrong with a good management system to encourage a quality
approach to managing key aspects of corporate responsibility. It would
just be good if this didn’t come to be the badge that defines a ‘good
company’ – or perhaps more importantly if the broader understanding of
what constitutes corporate social responsibility doesn’t come to be
defined solely by what is covered by the ISO standard.

US defends its stance on climate change

US defends its stance on climate change
Financial Times, 17 June 2005 - The US yesterday played down differences
on climate change with the other Group of Eight industrialised nations,
amid claims by environmental campaigners that a leaked "plan of action"
showed the US was blocking progress in the run up to next month's
Gleneagles summit.
Tony Blair, the prime minister, has made tackling climate change a
priority for the UK's G8 presidency but the June 14 draft of the
Gleneagles declaration appears weaker in several respects than previous
versions.
Paula Dobriansky, US under-secretary of state for global affairs, said: "I
think the emphasis here should be on the fact that we have common goals,
common objectives, common actions, that bring us together. This
commonality . . . outweighs the differences that we might have."
In Britain, the government has come under fire after it delayed
publication of a review of its climate change strategy designed to get the
country "back on track" towards its goal of cutting carbon dioxide
emissions by 20 per cent by 2010. The review was meant to be completed in
the first half of 2005 but is now expected by the end of the year.
Elliot Morely, environment minister, said the government needed more time
to appraise "new policy options", including the capture and storage of
carbon emissions and tax changes to cut pollution from cars.
Amid fears the US might try to weaken any statement from the G8 on the
scientific basis for global warming, Ms Dobriansky said: "Science is an
issue that is integrated into all (our) activities (on climate change)."
Last week, the national science academies of all G8 countries and three
developing countries issued an unprecedented joint statement saying that
the scientific case for climate change caused by human action justified
strong concern over the issue, and measures should be taken immediately to
combat the problem.
Ms Dobriansky said: "I know that they (officials of the G8) are working
through aspects of this issue (of the science) and focusing very much on
how we can come together and take action."
But in the June 14 draft of the Gleneagles text almost all scientific
statements about the impact of climate change are in square brackets -
meaning that they have been challenged by at least one G8 member. There
are no commitments on funding research, nor targets for reducing emissions
of carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas.
Ms Dobriansky said some of the key areas of common ground included
assisting developing countries to gain access to "clean" technologies -
such as renewable sources of energy - that would help to avoid or mitigate
the use of fossil fuels, which produce carbon dioxide when burnt.

More companies reveal social policies: More than half of the world's biggest companies reveal details of their environmental and social performance

More companies reveal social policies
Financial Times, 15 June 2005 - More than half of the world's biggest
companies reveal details of their environmental and social performance,
according to a KPMG survey that provides fresh evidence of business
leaders' support for corporate social responsibility.
The survey, published every three years, found that CSR reports for 2005
now cover a much wider range of issues, and that many companies also
provide CSR information in their annual financial reports. Fifty-two per
cent of the top 250 companies in the Fortune 500 list published separate
reports on corporate social responsibility, up from 45 per cent three
years ago.
George Molenkamp, chairman of KPMG's sustainability services, said the
growth of CSR reporting had proved the sceptics wrong. "When we started
observing these issues, many people argued this was just a fashion that
would disappear as soon as the economic situation got worse. But the
economic situation has deteriorated, and still more and more companies are
doing this."
Companies have also become more generous in the information they provide.
While previously most businesses disclosed only their environmental
record, most now cover issues such as labour standards, working conditions
and community involvement as well.
The survey, due to be released today, states: "A growing number of
companies (and their stakeholders) believe that long-term business success
depends not only on a healthy balance sheet but also on social and
environmental performance."
That belief has now spread to sectors that traditionally saw little reason
in issuing CSR reports. Most strikingly, 86 financial services companies
issued CSR reports, up from only 40 three years ago.
CSR reporting rose particularly strongly in Italy, Spain, Canada and
France, where the number of companies issuing such reports almost doubled.
But Japan and Britain remain the countries most strongly wedded to the
concept.
Businesses cited a variety of reasons for their involvement in CSR, though
by far the greatest number pointed to economic considerations. "The
economic reasons were either directly linked to increased shareholder
value or market share, or indirectly linked through increased business
opportunities, innovation, reputation and reduced risk," the survey notes.
Ethical considerations came in second place, and were cited by more than
one in two companies.
A desire to motivate employees and attract new recruits was a further
strong incentive, the survey said.
The KPMG report is based on an analysis of the 250 top companies in the
Fortune 500, as well as the 100 biggest companies in 16 countries. It was
written jointly with researchers from the University of Amsterdam.