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Carbon emission risks and management accounting: Australian evidence

Jayanthi Kumarasiri (Accounting, Economics and Finance, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia)
Christine Jubb (Accounting, Economics and Finance, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia)

Accounting Research Journal

ISSN: 1030-9616

Article publication date: 4 July 2016




The purpose of this paper is to apply regulatory mix theory as a framework for investigating the use of management accounting techniques by Australian large listed companies in constraining their carbon emissions.


Semi-structured interviews are conducted with senior managers involved with managing their companies’ carbon emission risks. Analysis of the interview data is undertaken with a view to provision of insight to the impact of the regulatory framework imposed to deal with carbon emissions.


The findings reveal that regulation impacting companies’ economic interests rather than requiring mere disclosure compliance is much more likely to be behind focusing top management and board attention and use of management accounting techniques to set targets, measure performance and incentivise emission mitigation. However, there remains much scope for increased use of accounting professionals and accounting techniques in working towards a carbon-constrained economy.

Research limitations/implications

The usual limitations associated with interpretation of interview data are applicable.

Practical implications

Under-use of management accounting techniques is likely to be associated with less than optimal constraint of carbon emissions.

Social implications

Carbon emissions are accepted as being involved in harmful climate change. To the extent effective techniques are under-utilised in constraining emissions, harmful consequences for society are likely to be heightened unnecessarily.


The topic and data collected are original and provide valuable insights into the dynamics of management accounting technique use in managing carbon emissions.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the efforts of interviewees who gave their time to provide their candid insights and views. This paper is drawn from Kumarasiri’s (2015) PhD thesis.


Kumarasiri, J. and Jubb, C. (2016), "Carbon emission risks and management accounting: Australian evidence", Accounting Research Journal, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 137-153.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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