The Volkswagen test-rigging scandal has put the spotlight on the integrity of multinational organisations when it comes to environmental laws.
(Also read our article: Automotives regulator to probe VW SA implication in test-rigging scandal)
The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) alleges that some of South Africa’s biggest listed companies are not forthcoming with the truth about their environmental compliance either.
The report, titled ‘Full Disclosure’, looks at 20 of the largest JSE-listed companies (mostly in the mining sector) and how some have allegedly violated the environmental laws between the years 2008 and 2014.
Tracey Davies, an attorney and Head of the Corporate Accountability and Transparency programme at the CER, said some of the 20 examined companies have significant environmental impact.
This is despite appearing on the JSE's Socially Responsible Investment Index.
Many of these companies are regularly breaching environmental laws and regulation and not complying with the conditions of their permits and licences. To add insult to injury, they are not accurately reflecting this when reporting to their shareholders.— Tracey Davies, head of Corporate Accountability and Transparency at CER
Listen to the full conversation from The Redi Tlhabi Show:
The CER provided each assessed company with a month to respond (prior to publication) to the findings. 17 of the 20 companies responded; Exxaro, Merafe Resources and Harmony Gold did not respond.
- AECI Limited
- African Rainbow Minerals Limited
- Anglo American Platinum Limited
- Anglo American plc
- AngloGold Ashanti Limited
- ArcelorMittal South Africa Limited
- DRDGold Limited
- Exxaro Resources Limited
- Gold Fields Limited
- Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited
- Illovo Sugar Limited
- Impala Platinum Holdings Limited
- Lonmin plc
- Merafe Resources Limited
- Mondi Group
- Nampak Limited
- Pretoria Portland Cement Company Limited
- Sappi Limited
- Sasol Limited
- Tongaat Hulett Limited
The report reveals that some companies had been found guilty of environmental offences such as toxic spills, illegal disposal of hazardous waste, and pollution of water, soil and air.
Many of these violations are not reported to company shareholders for the fear of damage to share value and dividend payouts.
Davies says public investors need to hold such companies accountable for their environmental practices and challenge the criteria used to award so-called 'socially responsible' or 'environmentally friendly' organisations.
The CER is a non-profit environmental law clinic. They are a group of environmental rights lawyers that helps communities defend their right to a healthy environment.
@RediTlhabi Volkswagen opened up a can of worms. This will turn the motor industry on its head. More so on fossil fuels..that is the problem— Tiaan van Zyl (@TiaanVZyl) September 28, 2015
- The article has been updated since its first publication after Illovo brought it to our attention that the tone of the article suggested that the company was lying about its green practices compliance, while it has been cooperating with the CER process.