This paper was motivated by the current debate over the voluntary approach to environmental disclosures in corporate annual reports and assesses the effectiveness of the current policy of voluntarism in the UK. A brief review of the relevant theories, which explain why managers might choose to voluntarily provide environmental responsibility information to parties outside the organisation, is presented. With this background, the paper then questions whether the UK government’s faith in voluntarism and the pursuit of best practice will be enough to generate any real change in current environmental reporting practices. We argue that voluntarism is not effective and that there is an urgent need to introduce strict governmental regulations on the information that must be disclosed and the form in which it should be presented in corporate annual reports as have been established in several other countries. In addition, further consideration is needed to achieve reforms in academic accounting education in order to improve corporate accountability and transparency in corporate annual reports. Organisations need to respond to the growing demands for corporate social and environmental responsibility and this will be possible with the support of an accounting profession that takes a more proactive approach to engaging with stakeholders. For this to happen, we need to rethink the focus of accounting and business education. We must move away from the dominant model, which treats accountancy as a set of techniques, towards a more holistic approach which recognises the social and environmental impacts of organisational activity.