My Photo: Robert S. Donovan

On 20 December 2012, SOMO published the report ‘Use of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in Sustainability Reporting by European Electricity Companies’, which showed that electricity companies are far less transparent than they claim.

Two independent research studies into the GRI reports of electricity companies reached exactly the same conclusions as the SOMO research. The business world and the GRI have responded to the outcomes of these research projects. SOMO carried out thorough research at twenty European electricity companies into the way results of their sustainability policy are being reported according to the voluntary GRI guidelines. There are great differences between the information that the electricity companies claim to report and the information that actually is presented in their sustainability reports regarding social and environmental aspects.

Towards the end of 2012, two independent research projects, carried out by the Vienna University of Economics and by Transparency International, reached exactly the same conclusions as SOMO, reporting the same percentages and mistakes. You can read the response given by the GRI to these research findings here.

The business world and the GRI have both responded to the findings of the SOMO reports on the blog of MVO Oplossingen (CSR Solutions), which led to an interesting and in-depth discussion (Dutch language).

Recommendations for the European Commission

“Notwithstanding the respected status of the GRI guidelines, the discrepancies and inaccuracies show that this voluntary system is not working well,” states SOMO researcher Joseph Wilde-Ramsing.

SOMO is of the opinion that the GRI should make the guidelines stricter and that a legal obligation is necessary. The recommendations to the various stakeholders are included in the SOMO report Use of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in Sustainability Reporting by European Electricity Companies, and can be found starting at page 44. SOMO has written letters to involved parties of the European Commission who are working on a new guideline in the field of ‘Non Financial Disclosure’.