Environmental Disclosure means information provided to the Acquirer in the form of the Environmental Materials, and all such further information obtained through investigations of the Divested Business by the Acquirer at the Nikkelverk Refinery and inquiries made by the Acquirer prior to the Closing Date as it considered prudent and appropriate, including records relating to and information from personnel of Falconbridge and the Divested Business responsible for Environmental Matters.
The disclosure of EI is based on the document analysis as it is been promoted by Bowen (2009). Several studies show concerns about sustainability reporting, such as: Gray (2002, 2006), Gray and Collison (2002), Sahay (2004), Byrch et al. (2007). Although, ED is already a widespread tendency in large and small and medium firms, it does not address these issues on their AR (Sahay, 2004; Chan and Welford, 2005). Indeed, it constitutes a challenge to firms whose current environmental focus are presented on monetary terms (Lamberton, 2005; Cho and Patten, 2007). Another example are the corporate AR that, usally, disclose their “good” business practices that ensure the sustainability of the business in order to contribute to the maximization of shareholder value, but nothing related to the “bad” business practices of the environment (Chan and Welford, 2005). But, there is a danger of transmitting a false image of firms’ reports, emphasizing those that are managed positively (Lamberton, 2005; DeVilliers and van Staden, 2006). Niskala and Pretes (1995) say that there are evidence about environmental reporting (ER) to be subjective, because the ED can change due to the voluntary basis. Neyland (2007) argues that these informations give more transparency to AR. Other example of disclosure could be the publication of standards by National Entities or Standard Setting Bodies in different countries about environmental responsibility.
In Portugal there is a Accounting and Financial Reporting Standards 26 - Environmental Issues (CNC, 2009), that prescribes the accounting treatment for EI in terms of recognition, measurement and disclosure. However, entities with securities listed on regulated markets of the member States of the European Union (EU) and with consolidated accounts, do not apply this standard. In these cases, the application of the International Accounting Standards issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is mandatory, since January 2005 (CNC, 2005). Undeniably, Monteiro (2007) has identified some factors that explain the ED practices in large firms that operate in Portugal. Main factors could be significantly associated with the prominence of ED among the firms included in the sample, in order to ascertain as to the existence of a significant (positive or negative) relationship between ER and financial performance. These concepts and ER seems to identify several variables based on financial accounting and as currently business success factors (Gray, 2002). As van Dick et al. (2014) defends “the most important challenge to sourcing environmental data is not always data collection per se, but often rather that collected data are too unlike, insufficiently described, and notmachine readable and therefore cannot (easily) be used in national accounts and reports”. So, this research seeks to analyse the ED on behalf of good practices promoted by the firms listed on the Euronext Stock Market which it will be associated with other variables from the firms’ AR disclosures.
Items include on Environmental Disclosure Index.
A Environmental programmes and policies
B Preventive measures/environmental protection
C Compliance with environmental regulations
D Reference to certification
E Environmental investments/capital expenditures (past and in the current year)
F Environmental performance/risks and impact on the environment (quantitative information)
G Environmental indicators
H Environmental management system
I Training on the environment
J External environmental audit
K Future environmental investment & expenditures
L Awards and recognition related to the environment
M Mention of improvements made year by year
N Mention of an environmental/sustainability report
O Initiative, awareness campaign, study, conferences Annex
P Measurement criteria related with the environment
Q Environmental incentives
R Environmental expenditures allocated to results (expenses: operating costs)
S Environmental capitalized expenditures (investment)
T Environmental liabilities
U Environmental contingent liabilities
V Environmental provisions
W Fees/penalties relating to environmental issues
X Heading: "Information on environmental matters"
Y Heading "CO2 licenses
Environmental Performance Determinants.
Examining environmental performance determinants has been a popular field of study (Christ & Burritt, 2013; Cormier & Magnan, 2003; Cowen et al., 1987; Deegan & Gordon, 1996; Erlandsson & Tillman, 2009; Hackston & Milne, 1996; Liu & Anbumozhi, 2009; Roberts, C.B., 1991; Roberts, R. W., 1992; Silva Monteiro & Aibar-Guzmán, 2010; Trotman & Bradley, 1981). These studies have examined the effect of several variables like: firm size, profitability, industry, country of firm ownership, country of reporting, leverage, capital intensity, company age, the existence of a CSR committee, stakeholder power and governmental influences (Hackston & Milne, 1996; Roberts, 1992). Three frequently studied determinants are corporate size, industry and corporate profitability. There is no existing empirical knowledge about the effect of these variables on environmental disclosure. Therefore, this study will also examine the relationship between these determinants and environmental disclosure in order to compare the results with the existing accounting literature. In the following part, the current state of knowledge on each determinant will be described.
2.3.1 Corporate size.
The majority of the empirical studies has found significant evidence that there is a positive relation between company size and the level of social and environmental disclosure (Brammer & Pavelin, 2006, 2008; Cormier & Magnan, 2003; Cowen et al., 1987; Gray et al., 1995; Hackston & Milne, 1996; Kolk, 2003; Patten, 1992, 2002; Silva Monteiro & Aibar-Guzmán, 2010; Trotman & Bradley, 1981; Zeng, Hu, Yin, & Tam, 2012). This positive relation assumption is based on the fact that, in general, larger companies participate in a higher number of businesses and are operating on an international scale. These activities have a greater impact on the natural environment and, consequently, on society. Also, larger companies have to satisfy a higher number of stakeholders who might be interested in environmental management and initiatives undertaken by the company. Therefore, these companies experience higher social and regulatory pressures to disclose environmental information than smaller firms (Brammer & Pavelin, 2006; Cowen et al., 1987; Deegan & Gordon, 1996; Hackston & Milne, 1996; Silva Monteiro & Aibar-Guzmán, 2010).
Furthermore, the environmental disclosure process is costly and the larger companies are more likely to be able, in contrast to medium and small sized companies, to spend resources to prepare and disclose environmental information (Silva Monteiro & Aibar-Guzmán, 2010). The last assumption, suggested by Wong and Fryxell (2004), underlies this positive relationship. The authors state that especially larger firms are becoming aware of the importance of building and maintaining a good corporate reputation and those firms try to disclose its environmental information to safeguard or expand this reputation. In addition, Brammer and Pavelin (2006) think also that larger companies are making significantly higher quality disclosures than smaller firms. However, other studies did not find a positive relationship between firm size and environmental disclosure (Roberts, 1992; Toms, 2002; Wagner, Phu, Azomahou, & Wehrmeyer, 2002).
A generally accepted assumption is that a relationship between the industry in which a firm is operating and its environmental disclosures exists The general expectation is that companies in, so-called, high profile (or environmental sensitive) industries will disclose more environmental information than companies in low-profile industries (Brammer & Pavelin, 2006, 2008; Campbell et al., 2003; Cho & Patten, 2007; Deegan & Gordon, 1996; Hackston & Milne, 1996; Roberts, 1992; Zeng et al., 2012).
There are two underlying assumptions that support this expectation. First, companies operating in environmental sensitive industries have to comply with strict environmental regulations due to the polluting characteristics of their activities (Silva Monteiro & Aibar-Guzmán, 2010). Therefore, firms operating in these sensitive industries should disclose their environmental concerns, otherwise stakeholders and especially investors will assume the worst (Cormier & Magnan, 2003; Clarkson et al., 2008; Cho & Patten, 2007; Hackston & Milne, 1996).
Second, environmental sensitive industries face greater societal pressure because they are more likely to be associated with visible environmental concerns, like the greenhouse gas emission and the risk of environmental disasters (Brammer & Pavelin, 2006; Silva Monteiro & Aibar-Guzmán, 2010). As a result, if environmental sensitive firms do not disclose sufficient environmental information, it can unleash disturbing reactions among environmental pressure groups and governments. Ultimately, society will turn against those companies. Therefore, companies that operate in environmentally sensitive industries tend to disclose more environmental information (Cho & Patten, 2007; Clarkson et al., 2008; Deegan & Gordon, 1996; Hackston & Milne, 1996).
Several studies actually find a relationship between industry and environmental disclosure, although the industries classification differs among them. Hackston and Milne (1996), Patten (1991) and Roberts (1992) reached a consensus that high-profile industry companies disclose significantly more environmental information than companies from low-profile industries. High-profile industries are for example the oil, chemical, metal, utility, airline, paper and water sectors (Cho & Patten, 2007; Clarkson et al., 2008; Hackston & Milne, 1996; Patten, 1991; Roberts, 1992).
Kolk (2003) concluded that environmental reporting is much more common in industrial sectors, compared to the financial sector. Silva Monteiro and Aibar-Guzmán (2010) state that industry membership is positively and significant correlated with environmental disclosure, in the Portuguese context. Furthermore, Brammer and Pavelin (2006) postulate that firms in the chemicals, resource extraction and utilities sectors provide significantly higher quality of environmental disclosure and firms in the high technology and finance sectors disclose a significantly lower quality of environmental information.
The third variable that will be tested in this study is the relationship between environmental disclosure and corporate profitability. It can be expected that there is a positive relationship between profitability and environmental disclosure. This expectation is based on the thought, best described by Brammer and Pavelin (2006, p.1174), that: "profits provide managers with a pool of resources from which the costs of making environmental disclosures are funded." Furthermore, if management is disclosing their environmental activities and performance, it is demonstrating to its stakeholder that the company can meet and respond to social demands. In other words, management is undertaking long-term strategic planning which is needed to survive (Cowen et al., 1987).
However, studies that have determined the relationship between profitability and environmental disclosure provided mixed results. Whereas some of the studies conclude that there is a positive relationship between profitability and environmental disclosure (Al-Tuwaijri, Christensen, & Hughes, 2004; Clarkson et al., 2011; Ingram, 1978; Neu et al., 1998), other studies have failed to find a significant relationship between these two variables (Brammer & Pavelin, 2006, 2008; Cowen et al., 1987; Freedman & Jaggi, 1982; Hackston & Milne, 1996; Patten, 1991; Silva Monteiro & Aibar-Guzmán, 2010; Zheng et al., 2012). Furthermore, some studies find a positive, but temporary, relationship between profitability and environmental disclosure (Belkaoui, 1976; Shane & Spicer, 1983), and Roberts (1992) has found evidence of a positive relationship between lagged profits and environmental disclosure. This is in line with Ullmann's argument (1985), in which is said that profit should be necessary before a company devotes its resources to meet stakeholder demands.