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Greenhouse gas accounting: global problem, national policy, local fugitives

Anna Young (University of Sydney, Darlington, Australia)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 3 July 2010



The purpose of this paper is to raise a selection of issues and questions that have begun to face academics and business professionals in the technically complex field of greenhouse gas accounting.


This paper drew on accounting, audit and assurance‐based field work whilst the author was employed with a “Big 4” accounting firm and undertaken with a range of Australian companies preparing to report greenhouse gas emissions to the Australian Government for the first time during June‐October 2009. The issues discussed in this paper include: determination of organisational boundaries and ownership of greenhouse emissions; determination of operational boundaries and how to account for the greenhouse emissions of contractors; and challenges of measuring and accounting for greenhouse gas emissions in the underground coal mining industry.


This paper highlights the need for further research into greenhouse gas accounting methodologies.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is primarily a news piece with a focus on three of a possible multitude of issues. The intention is not to provide a complete review of the growing academic literature in the greenhouse gas accounting field, nor to elaborate on the entire array of challenges presented by greenhouse gas accounting for a range of industries. Further, the paper does not intend to discuss climate change science or emissions trading in any detail.


Whilst the focus is on the Australian experience, the questions raised may be of interest to a more international audience as attempts are made to put a national framework using local measures on a global problem are commonplace.



Young, A. (2010), "Greenhouse gas accounting: global problem, national policy, local fugitives", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 89-95.



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