Report slams CSR policies of big firms

Companies’ claims on CSR have been slammed as hypocritical in a report co-authored by The Observer’s management editor and environmental group Green Alliance.

In The Private Life of Public Affairs, The Observer’s Simon Caulkin and GA policy officer Joanna Collins argue that corporations increasingly portray themselves as ‘green and clean’ while actively lobbying to water down or delay potential environmental legislation via their membership of trade associations and business groups.

The report claims that environmental legislation, such as the proposed EU chemicals policy, and proposals for energy taxation are being weakened by opposition from business groups.

Collins also criticises airports operator BAA, saying its plans for expansion of UK runways, for which it is lobbying via the organisation Freedom to Fly, are unsustainable.

A BAA spokesperson backed the line taken by Freedom to Fly director Dan Hodges, who said: ‘BAA and ourselves advocate sustainable runway expansion. We believe it’s possible.’

Craig Bennett, corporate accountability campaigner at green group Friends of the Earth, endorsed the report’s claims, saying his organisation plans more systematic scrutiny of lobbying by individual companies.

However, he said Freedom to Fly was one of three organisations on FoE’s ‘radar’, the other two being the Confederation of British Industry and the International Chamber of Commerce.

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