UK Environment Minister Elliot Morley stressed that business could no longer afford not to report on the environment. This came as he published for consultation, a new generation of guidelines, to help UK business manage and report on its impact on the environment.

Covering areas such as greenhouse gas emissions and waste, the indicators, mapped out for over 50 business sectors, will help business report on their environmental performance in a way that answers the needs of their shareholders and other stakeholders.

'There is an increasing recognition that good environmental performance makes good business sense,' said Morley. 'Failure to minimise environmental impacts and plan for a future in which environmental factors are likely to be significant may risk the long-term value and future of a business.'

The impetus for sound environmental reporting isn't just coming from government, though. Interest in socially responsible investing is rocketing, and investors want to know where their money is going, says Morley. There is also increasing pressure from elsewhere as new rules require business to understand the link between environmental and financial performance.

And today's society demands more and more that we take better care of our environment. Until now, environmental reporting has varied greatly from company to company. These new guidelines will outline how environmental performance can be measured using a series of 'Key Performance Indicators' and how to report them. In many cases, this is a matter of reorganising data that has already been collected. It will give environmental performance across the board better accuracy, detail and consistency. The guidelines are open for consultation until 19 September. The consultation paper and a response form are available from DEFRA's website