Economic Watch: Authorities promote mandatory environmental disclosure as listed companies fail test

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-13 15:59:42|Editor: An
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BEIJING,June 13 (Xinhua) -- China is introducing mandatory environmental disclosure by listed companies, as many listed companies recently failed an environmental disclosure test of their 2015 annual reports.

Shanghai's Fudan University surveyed the reports of 170 companies across 14 sectors listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

Environmental disclosure in the reports was inconsistent despite strong public demand for environmental transparency. Pharmaceuticals, brewing and textile sectors were among those ranked lowest, while the petrochemical sector was better than average.

"Emission-heavy industries such as petrochemicals have become accustomed to public scrutiny, while water pollution has been the subject of less public attention," said Li Zhiqing, deputy head of the Fudan University research center for environmental economics.

The survey showed how environmental disclosure can help companies translate environmental costs into operating performance, said Li.

During the latest round of air pollution inspections, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) found a total of 13,785 companies, or 70.6 percent of those examined, in violation of environmental standards. The findings came after two months of inspections across 28 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and nearby areas.

China is pushing green development and green lifestyles to balance economic growth and environmental protection. Clear measures have been put in place to tackle air, water, and soil pollution, applying the strictest systems and the most rigorous laws to protect the environment.

On Monday, the MEP and China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) signed an agreement on listed companies' environmental disclosure.

"Listed companies are a cornerstone of the capital market and have a responsibility to protect the environment," said CSRC vice chairman Jiang Yang.

The CSRC is working closely with environmental authorities to ensure listed companies disclose environmental information appropriately.

Mapping out the future of green financing, the central bank and six other central authorities issued guidelines last year. Among the multitude of incentives proposed, the guidelines suggested establishment of a national green development fund, standards for green bonds, support for qualified green firms to get listed and refinanced and compulsory disclosure regarding environmental issues.

China is the world's largest green bond market. According to credit rating agency Moody's, green bond issues worldwide hit a record high of 93.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, rising 120 percent from a year earlier, mainly due to China which issued nearly 40 percent of new green bonds, followed by the United States, France and Germany.

Green bonds ease financing demands for medium-and-long-term green projects as banks are limited in their dealings with such projects.

"The guidelines made it clear that the country will establish a mandatory environmental disclosure system for listed companies and bond issuers," said Huang Runqiu, deputy head of the MEP.