Essential environmental impact variables: A means for transparent corporate sustainability reporting aligned with planetary boundaries

Wassénius, Emmy, Beatrice Crona, and Sasha Quahe. ‘Essential Environmental Impact Variables: A Means for Transparent Corporate Sustainability Reporting Aligned with Planetary Boundaries’. One Earth 7, no. 2 (16 February 2024): 211–25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.oneear.2024.01.014.

15 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2023 Last revised: 21 Feb 2024

See all articles by Emmy Wassénius

Emmy Wassénius

Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere

Beatrice Crona

Stockholm Resilience Centre; Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere Program

Sasha Quahe

Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere

Date Written: February 16, 2024

Abstract

Despite numerous pledges to the contrary, corporate activities are inflicting environmental harm and are pushing the Earth system toward and beyond planetary boundaries. Several sustainability accounting frameworks exist, designed to track corporate environmental impacts through corporate reporting, and there is currently a push toward standardization of these. However, most sustainability accounting frameworks still fail to fully capture the connections between corporate activities and impacts, as they depart from what is important for the companies (materiality assessments) and often rely on relative metrics. Here, we propose 15 essential environmental impact variables (EEIVs), applicable to all sectors, based on absolute metrics and what is essential for staying within the planetary boundaries. We argue that standardization must rather depart from these underlying premises. By designing EEIVs for seven primary industries with large environmental footprints and demonstrating the operationality via the aquaculture sector, we show how EEIVs efficiently identify the most important corporate impact information while increasing transparency between companies and stakeholders, thus enabling external assessment of corporate sustainability.

Keywords: corporate reporting, disclosure, sustainability, environmental impact, environmental performance, sustainability accounting, essential variables, planetary boundaries

Suggested Citation

Wassénius, Emmy and Crona, Beatrice and Quahe, Sasha, Essential environmental impact variables: A means for transparent corporate sustainability reporting aligned with planetary boundaries (February 16, 2024). Wassénius, Emmy, Beatrice Crona, and Sasha Quahe. ‘Essential Environmental Impact Variables: A Means for Transparent Corporate Sustainability Reporting Aligned with Planetary Boundaries’. One Earth 7, no. 2 (16 February 2024): 211–25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.oneear.2024.01.014. , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4362266 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4362266

Emmy Wassénius

Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere

Beatrice Crona

Stockholm Resilience Centre ( email )

Kräftriket 2B
Stockholm, SE-114 19
Sweden

Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere Program ( email )

Sweden

Sasha Quahe (Contact Author)

Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere ( email )

Stockholm
Sweden

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