Environmental transparency ratings of mining companies and heat and power generating enterprises: calculation by sub-sectors and sanctions for large-scale harm to nature
The calculation is carried out by the National Rating Agency (NRA). The transparency degree of each mining company is assessed by experts according to 30 criteria. The methods are annually updated and improved with the participation of representatives of the academia, the companies featured, independent experts, and NGOs. For example, this year, for the first time, quantitative indicators of the environmental transparency rating of mining companies will be calculated as the arithmetic average of indicators for companies in the sub-sectors of the rating (diamond industry, mining of precious metals, mining and processing of non-ferrous metal ores, mining and processing of ferrous and alloying metal ores, mining and chemical industry, coal industry). Due to the high profile accident that caused huge damage to the environment, and in connection with systemic environmental violations confirmed this year, in accordance with the rules for participation in the rating, the rating for Norilsk Nickel temporarily will not be calculated.
On October the 2nd, 2020, WWF-Russia sent a letter to the company informing Norilsk Nickel of this decision. In its message, the Fund also expresses hope that the company will continue to take measures to eliminate the consequences of the accident and compensate for the environmental damage. “We believe that now the company should pay special attention to the development of an open dialog with the public. This is a prerequisite on the path to the transparency of environmentally significant information. The enterprise has great horizons for development in this area. And we emphasized this in our first letter to Norilsk Nickel, urging the company, in particular, to revise its Oil Spill Response Plan (OSR) and make it public. In a response letter, the company reported that the OSR plan was revised and submitted on July 31, 2020, but the document itself was not presented to us,'' said Alexey Knizhnikov, Head of the Program for the Business Environmental Responsibility at WWF-Russia.
The degree of damage from industrial accidents is directly related to how openly companies operate. Indeed, the efficiency of response to such accidents depends on the promptness and completeness of providing information. WWF-Russia has been dealing with issues of disclosing environmentally significant information by businesses for about ten years. “The problem is relevant for absolutely all industry sectors,” says Alexey Knizhnikov. "Our ratings are aimed at encouraging companies to share environmentally valuable information, which means to speak openly about accidents, incidents, and controversial situations. Of course, no one wants to disclose such data, but otherwise enterprises will not be able to minimize their environmental impact."
Last year, a similar study for heat and power generating enterprises was added to the conventional environmental transparency ratings of oil and gas companies and mining companies. “This industry is currently one of the most non-public, and it is precisely the greening of the power generation sector that is now becoming one of the highest priorities on the global agenda,” Mr. Knizhnikov stressed.
The environmental transparency rating of heat and power generating enterprises started to be calculated together with the calculations of the mining companies' rating. The pilot rating was released last year. Then, 15 major companies in the industry took part in the study; this year, their number increased to 18. The transparency degree of each enterprise will be assessed by experts according to 23 criteria.
Since 2019, the ratings of mining companies and heat and power generating enterprises have been part of the People for Nature project carried out by WWF-Russia with the support of the European Union. Thanks to the grant and educational programs within the project, non-profit organizations from the Khabarovsk Krai, the Amur Region, Yenisey Siberia, and Altai joined the collection of information for the rankings. The involvement of independent organizations in different regions helps to improve the quality and speed of collecting information on environmental conflicts, which is then used in calculating the ratings and interacting with companies. Satellite imagery, which makes it possible to study data remotely, is becoming one of the most important tools for public monitoring of industrial pollution used by activists. Thanks to new technology, environmentalists are able to monitor remote areas, which used to be difficult to access, and collect data both quickly, identifying new pollution, and retrospectively, assessing the situation using historical images.
The results of the sectoral environmental transparency ratings are to be presented in December 2020 in Moscow.
Photo: (с) Ivan Dementievskiy / WWF-Russia