1. Why has the importance of environmental accounting to business grown in the
past ten years?
2. What is an external stakeholder? Provide an example of a situation where
pressure from external stakeholders has pushed managers to engage with
3. What mechanisms are available to help provide stakeholders with an assurance
that a company complies with environmental regulations?
4. If fines for non-compliance are much higher than ever before, how might
increased transparency, brought about by environmental accounting disclosures, still act as a competitive advantage to a company?
5. What are the reasons for most companies having a poorly co-ordinated
collection of environmental data? How are these reasons related to the distinction made between fixed and variable costs of information management
6. Stakeholders’ views. Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd (BHP). BHP is an
Australian-based global mineral resources company.A tailings dam constructed
at the Ok Tedi copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea collapsed leading
to over 700 million tonnes of tailings and waste rock being delivered directly into
the Ok Tedi and Fly River systems over the past 15 years. Groups that relied on
these rivers have lost their livelihood (e.g. fish stocks were destroyed). In 1994,
these groups decided to bring an action against BHP in the Melbourne courts
in Australia. An out-of-court settlement, so far costing over A$500 million
dollars, was reached with BHP in 1996 (BHP 1997: 2). In 1999, the Chief Executive Officer of BHP commented that, with the benefit of a new report and
hindsight, BHP should never have become involved with the mining venture.The
World Wide Fund for Nature has called for the giant Ok Tedi mine in Papua
New Guinea to be closed immediately (Australian 1999: 7).
a Identify the stakeholders involved in the Ok Tedi mining disaster.
b Consider whether each stakeholder group, including management, is
concerned about efficient decision-making, accountability of the organisation or both.
7. Costs of information: increasing environmental expenditures. Most major
corporations are spending in the tens of millions of dollars annually on environmental costs, with the larger ones spending in the hundreds of millions and some
spending more than US$1 billion per year (Epstein 1996: xxv).
a What factors might have led to increases in environmental expenditures
for organisations in environmentally sensitive industries (e.g. chemicals)?
b Are there any offsetting factors that might lead to a reduction in the cost
of obtaining information about environmental impacts?
• Every Shell company has adopted this policy and procedures.
• Over 90 companies have HSE management systems in place.The target is for
all Shell companies to have such systems installed by the end of 1999.
• Independent auditors will check adoption of the HSE policy and procedures.
a Why might Shell disclose its business principles to the public?
b Identify the main concepts included by Shell in the above statement of
business principles. Design a principle for your own organisation, or an
organisation of your choice, that incorporates all of these concepts.
9. Environmental compliance: a market opportunity. Table 2.1 shows estimates of the size of the market for environmental technologies and services
needed to comply with environmental standards. In 1996 the OECD, using a
fairly narrow definition of the industry, estimated that the global compliance
market would be about US$300 billion by the year 2000 (OECD 1996b).
a List the trends observable in the figures contained in Table 2.1.
b Explain the factors that have encouraged these trends.