The paper 'Voluntary Disclosure in the Australian Corporate Sector" is a perfect example of a finance and accounting case study. In the current business environment, sustainability has come to be a core area of focus for corporate entities, not-for-profit organisations and governments. Companies have had to re-assess their policies and observe ethical standards all through the value chain given the sensitivity of sustainability to their for-profit ventures. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has developed guidelines for sustainability reporting for each one organisation in the globe. The institution’ s initiative has been widely accepted.
The guidelines include specific standard disclosures that guide organisations to report correctly regarding their economic (profit), social (people), and environmental (planet) (triple bottom line) dimensions of their undertakings. Measuring the degree of an entity’ s sustainable operations is rather hard. Even as the GRI guidelines are out to achieve comparability between reports through using common indicators, they also permit flexibility. Organisations are gratuitous to ponder on the content of their reports that is also consistent with their capacity. Therefore, some content may not be covered. This report looks into the sustainability reporting of two leading companies in the Australian energy sector: Origin Energy and Santos.
The company’ s reports are evaluated against the latest GRI guidelines (G4). Origin Energy Origin is a leading integrated energy company with extensive operations across Australia and New Zealand. Its activities include exploration, generation, production, and delivery of energy solutions both in the local and international markets. The company’ s portfolio is concentrated in various basins in Central Australia, Southern Australia, and Western Australia and in the Northern Territory, Taranaki and Canterbury in New Zealand as well as Vietnam.
The company provides energy to homes and businesses all through Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. Origin also has interests in the emerging Asian markets and in Latin America. Origin desires to produce energy that is affordable, and environmentally friendly. The company’ s reporting indicates that it followed the GRI G4 guidelines. Origin reported on the environmental, social and economic impacts of its operations (Origin Energy, 2015a). Under the economic category, Origin reported on three of the four material aspects as guided by G4 principles. Under economic performance aspect, Origin reported on just two indicators; G4-EC1, and G4-EC2.
Under indirect economic impacts only indicator, G4-EC7 was reported only. The other material aspect covered is procurement practices using the only indicator; G4-EC9. Apart from the indicators not covered in the reported aspects, the only material aspect not totally report on is the market presence (Origin Energy, 2015b; GRI, 2014). Under the environment category, Origin reported on six out of the twelve material aspects contained under G4 guidelines. The company reported comprehensively on water regarding all elements contained under G4-EN8, G4-EN9, and G4-EN10 respectively. Origin regards the protection of water resources as a material aspect.
The company also reported on biodiversity covering all the four elements outlined under G4-EN11, G4-EN12, G4-EN13, and G4-EN14 respectively. The third aspect Origin reported on is emissions. Origin reported on all the three scopes regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, that is, scope 1 - G4-EN15, scope 2 - G4EN16, and scope 3 - G4EN17. Other indicators covered under emissions reporting include G4EN18, G4EN20, and G4EN21. However, the company did not report on the reduction of GHG emissions (G4EN19). Under effluents and waste, origin reported on a number of the required elements.
That is, G4EN22, G4EN23, and G4EN24. The company also reported on the quantity of formation or produced water (G4OG5), and the quantity of drill mud and cuttings generated along with their treatment and disposal (G4OG7), though this is not indicated under the G4 guidelines. The effluents and waste reporting did not cover indicators G4EN25 and G4EN26. Origin reported on G4EN29, the only indicator under compliance and G4EN34, the only indicator under environmental grievance mechanism. The material aspects under environment not reported on by Origin are materials, energy, products and services, transport, overall, and supplier environmental assessment (Origin Energy, 2015b; GRI, 2014).