Legal firm fumes as it reports Balfour Beatty to City watchdog for not talking about climate change enough
September 19, 2018 – Country’s biggest contractor could be asked to bring out new version of annual report
Balfour Beatty has been reported to the Financial Reporting Council – for not mentioning climate change enough in its latest annual report.
London firm Client Earth, a not-for-profit legal practise, said scant reference to climate change in Balfour’s annual report contravenes the contractor’s responsibility to report on business risks to its investors.
In a 35 page submission to the City watchdog, Client Earth said because of the amount of greenhouse emissions associated with sectors such as construction, the country’s biggest contractor is particularly exposed to climate-related financial risks.
It said: “Balfour Beatty’s business is materially exposed to the trends and risks associated with climate change and the low carbon transition.”
But it said other than a “brief discussion” of reducing carbon output “Balfour Beatty provides no meaningful discussion of any risks or trends associated with [both]”.
It added the firm had reported that it was taking measures to mitigate the risks of climate change. “However, no information or detail is provided about what these risks might be for Balfour Beatty’s business.”
Client Earth said many of Balfour’s peers, including Vinci, Bam and housebuilder Barratt, have substantially addressed the issue of climate change, making Britain’s largest contractor “a clear outlier among its peers”.
The complaint will be dealt with by the Financial Reporting Council’s conduct committee, who can apply to court to compel a company to publish a new version of its report.
Client Earth has also referred Balfour Beatty’s auditor, KPMG, to the council for approving the annual report which covers the 12 month period up to December last year.
Balfour Beatty has been contacted for comment.