A Study of Environmental Disclosures in the European Oil and Gas Industry : With Reference to the Global Reporting Initiative
Abstract: Background and Problem: Sustainability reporting is a growing trend in the society. One of the most exposed industries to environmental matters is the oil and gas industry, which commit to sustainability reporting in order to deal with the industry’s destructive operations. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) provides voluntary guidelines in sustainability reporting, which increase transparency for the company’s stakeholders. However, it is controversial that the oil and gas industry put a great effort into sustainability reporting even though the industry is environmentally destructive. This gap is interesting to investigate and will contribute to the academic discussion. Therefore, this thesis will focus on the sustainability reporting in the oil and gas industry and to what extent the industry actually discloses material environmental information about their operations. Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to examine how the sustainability reporting has changed in the oil and gas industry in Europe. This is performed from a stakeholder perspective. Further, it aims to investigate how oil and gas companies have followed the GRI guidelines and how the reporting has changed over time. Method: A quantitative method is used in order to answer the research questions. The data sample is based on oil and gas companies reporting according to the GRI framework during year 2012 to year 2014. The empirical data is gathered from the studied companies’ environmental category in their sustainability reports. Further, a content analysis technique, with a coding scheme, was set up to interpret and analyse the information. To enable an easy overview of the findings, the relevant data is presented in tables and diagrams. Empirical Findings and Conclusion: The majority of the studied companies have increased their level of compliance in the environmental category. Although, the majority of the companies have increased their reporting, the compliance level differs between the companies. The most reported sectors are the; “Water”, “Biodiversity”, “Emissions”, “Effluents and Waste”, “Compliance”, and “Overall”. Further, the empirical findings show that there is an overall increase in the amount of disclosed information per indicator. The conclusion of this thesis is that the environmental disclosures have increased in the oil and gas industry from year 2012 to 2014.
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