Environmental Voice within Companies and Company Law: Environmental Management Systems

Research output: Working paper


This paper explores the relationship between ‘environmental voice’ and the (albeit loose) ‘environmental procedures’ under UK company law. By environmental voice, I mean the advocacy of environmental concerns within corporate decision-making, and the associated salience (or not) afforded to environmental issues within business organisations.
The starting point in locating this voice is the real individuals who comprise business organisations. However, a number of organisational, hierarchical and market factors can serve to ‘mute’ environmental voice within corporations. The challenge for corporate and environmental lawyers, I argue, is to find ways to limit these muting factors in order to open up space within companies for the expression and amplification of environmental voice. For a number of reasons, current company law procedures do little in this regard, and may in fact be damaging to genuine desires to improve corporate environmental performance.
In response, I consider the potential merits of mandating Environmental Management Systems (EMSs) via company law. Importantly, emerging empirical research points to the potential of EMSs to open up deliberative space within companies for the expression of environmental concerns and environmental value. For both practical and symbolic reasons, I suggest that the responsibility for instituting and ensuring the proper implementation of an EMS should be mandated via the codified regime of directors’ duties. I use the EU's voluntary Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) as an example of what the legal regulation of EMSs might look like.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013


  • Sustainable Companies
  • Environmental Law and Regulation
  • Company Law

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