Essential Environmental Impact Variables

The corporate and financial systems

are bringing us closer to planetary boundaries and dangerous tipping points. Despite much ESG investing and corporate sustainability reporting, actual environmental impacts have changed little.

We propose a new approach to corporate sustainability reporting that transparently captures drivers of environmental impacts. It contributes to ongoing efforts to standardize and regulate corporate sustainability reporting.

We develop 15 “Essential Environmental Impact Variables” (EEIVs), starting with seven primary industries, which capture the most essential information on key environmental impacts of those industries at local and global scales. By focusing on what is most essential, we could reduce reporting burden  whilst providing more meaningful information.

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As there are ongoing efforts in the EU and internationally to standardize and regulate corporate sustainability reporting, we argue that our approach could help make new frameworks much more meaningful and effective from an environmental sustainability perspective.

Grounded in scientific review and evidence, the EEIVs enable context-specific and comparable reporting of corporate activities. Whilst simple and feasible to report, they also provide useful information about complex system dynamics, including interactions between different environmental processes.

To develop the framework, we started with seven primary industries where most environmental impacts in the economy take place. Future work would seek to expand them more broadly.

Such variables could help the financial sector act on its sustainability ambitions and deploy capital in ways that promote, rather than undermine, environmental sustainability. In this project, we start to show how companies and financial institutions can collect and use information in ways that help us live within planetary boundaries.

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Beatrice Crona

Professor, Executive Director


Emmy Wassénius

PhD Candidate

We develop corporate sustainability reporting that transparently captures drivers of environmental impacts

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