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Article
Publication date: 25 October 2011

Markus J. Milne and Suzana Grubnic

This paper aims to set out several of the key issues and areas of the inter‐disciplinary field of climate change research based in accounting and accountability, and to…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to set out several of the key issues and areas of the inter‐disciplinary field of climate change research based in accounting and accountability, and to introduce the papers that compose this AAAJ special issue.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper provides an overview of issues in the science of climate, as well as an eclectic collection of independent and inter‐disciplinary contributions to accounting for climate change. Through additional accounting analysis, and a shadow carbon account, it also illustrates how organisations and nations account for and communicate their greenhouse gas (GHG) footprints and emissions behaviour.

Findings

The research shows that accounting for carbon and other GHG emissions is immensely challenging because of uncertainties in estimation methods. The research also shows the enormity of the challenge associated with reducing those emissions in the near future.

Originality/value

The paper surveys past work on a wide variety of perspectives associated with climate change science, politics and policy, as well as organisational and national emissions and accounting behaviour. It provides an overview of challenges in the area, and seeks to set an agenda for future research that remains interesting and different.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 24 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 18 May 2010

Isabelle Pignatel and Alistair Brown

This paper aims to examine the contribution made to climate change issues by the élite French accounting journals of La Revue Francophone de Comptabilité and Comptabilité

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the contribution made to climate change issues by the élite French accounting journals of La Revue Francophone de Comptabilité and Comptabilité, Contrôle, Audit, for the period 2000‐2005.

Design/methodology/approach

The climate change contributions made by top French to top Anglo‐Saxon journals are compared.

Findings

While Anglo Saxon élite journals place the natural environment outside the fold of the élite accounting academia, French élite accounting organs infuse climate change issues with subtle motives and meanings, providing symbolic power to a plethora of communicators who want to show that accounting can respond to the global environmental risks caused by human problems.

Originality/value

Stress is placed on the fact that Anglo‐Saxon accounting academics approve and endorse the present system of accounting journal ranking. It does not rank France's top journals very highly and makes no room for discourses outside the mainstream.

Details

EuroMed Journal of Business, vol. 5 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1450-2194

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 17 February 2021

Sandro Brunelli, Camilla Falivena, Chiara Carlino and Francesco Venuti

The increasing responsibility of organisations towards society and the environment has inverted the relationship between accounting and accountability, leading to…

Abstract

Purpose

The increasing responsibility of organisations towards society and the environment has inverted the relationship between accounting and accountability, leading to accountability-based accounting systems. This study aims to explore the debate on accountability for climate change within the integrating thinking (IT) perspective. Ascertaining the most significant trends in the debate around purposes and performance that characterise climate mitigation engagement and their connections, the study would explore if and to what extent organisations are tackling climate actions.

Design/methodology/approach

A narrative review of the extensive academic literature developed from the Kyoto Protocol to date was performed. After selecting a representative sample, papers were analysed with the support of a new analytical framework that involves three dimensions – answerability, enforcement and outcome – and governance schemes that emerge from the involvement of the private and public sector and civil society. With the support of NVivo software, themes arisen were analysed and coded. Key items were labelled, creating specific nodes and synthesised into the proposed framework.

Findings

A “silo approach” largely characterises the debate on accountability for climate change. The most significant reasons behind the shortcomings of extant climate actions may be retrieved firstly in the weakness of the motivations that guide organisations to operate in a climate-friendly way.

Social implications

This study underlines the need for a 360° integrated approach for strategically tackling climate actions.

Originality/value

This study would represent a further step towards an integrated approach for studying organisations behaviours in the “climate war”, embracing the connectivity between purposes and outcomes, capitals and the relationships amongst the various stakeholders.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

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Article
Publication date: 9 March 2020

Delphine Gibassier, Giovanna Michelon and Mélodie Cartel

The purpose of this paper is to review the contributions of the special issue papers while presenting four broad research avenues.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review the contributions of the special issue papers while presenting four broad research avenues.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on a review of current literature on climate change and carbon accounting.

Findings

The authors propose four broad avenues for research: climate change as a systemic and social issue, the multi-layered transition apparatus for climate change, climate vulnerability and the future of carbon accounting.

Practical implications

The authors connect this study with the requested institutional changes for climate breakdown, making the paper relevant for practice and policy. The authors notably point to education and professions as institutions that will request bold and urgent makeovers.

Social implications

The authors urge academics to reconsider climate change as a social issue, requiring to use new theoretical lenses such as emotions, eco-feminism, material politics and “dispositifs” to tackle this grand challenge.

Originality/value

This paper switches the authors’ viewpoint on carbon accounting to look at it from a more systemic and social lens.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 11 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 10 June 2020

Brendan O'Dwyer and Jeffrey Unerman

This paper problematizes TCFD (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures) reporting in a way that demonstrates areas where academic research can contribute…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper problematizes TCFD (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures) reporting in a way that demonstrates areas where academic research can contribute towards realizing the transformative potential of this unique form of sustainability accounting in its early stages of development.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper proposes a number of research agendas for impactful interdisciplinary research into new forms of corporate reporting of sustainability risks, opportunities and dependencies.

Findings

There are several major challenges that both reporting corporations and investors need to address in realizing the potential of TCFD style risks, opportunities and dependencies reporting. Key among these is developing new practices of climate-related scenario analysis and reporting.

Practical implications

There is potential for many different academic research studies to provide solid evidence in helping improve the practical impact of TCFD style sustainability reporting. These impacts may assist in moving corporate policies and actions towards zero carbon.

Originality/value

This is the first agenda-setting paper that addresses the need for, and opportunities of, academic research into TCFD reporting and its potential to transform corporate accounting and reporting of sustainability.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 19 September 2016

David R.J. Moore and Ken McPhail

The purpose of this paper is to utilize the three abstract-concrete levels of ontology of strong structuration theory (strong ST) to examine how, and to what extent, was…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to utilize the three abstract-concrete levels of ontology of strong structuration theory (strong ST) to examine how, and to what extent, was the development of carbon accounting frameworks at the policy, industry, and organizational levels enabled by external structures as conditions of action, that is, what was the nature of active agency within a field of position-practice relations that led to the development of these frameworks.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study was undertaken drawing upon interviews that were undertaken between 2008 and 2011 at the industry and organizational levels as well as documentary evidence relating to carbon accounting policy development at the macro, or policy level.

Findings

The parliamentary committee hearings into the development of the carbon price legislation represented fields of position-practice relationships which highlighted the interplay of the internal structures, capabilities and the roles of both power and trust of the agent(s)-in-focus. A meso-level analysis of the Victorian water industry highlighted how it was able to mediate the exercise of power by the macro level through the early adoption of carbon accounting frameworks. At the ontic or micro level of the individual water business, the development of a greenhouse strategy was also the outcome of position-practice relationships which highlighted the interplay of the internal structures and dispositions of the agent(s)-in-focus. The position-practice relationships at both the industry and organizational level were characterized by both soft power and trust.

Research limitations/implications

Future research could investigate how the withdrawal of the carbon pricing mechanism in Australia has affected the development of carbon accounting practices whilst overseas research could examine the extent to which carbon accounting frameworks were the outcome of position-practice relationships.

Practical implications

Given the global significance of carbon accounting, this paper provides an overview as to how the early adoption of voluntary carbon accounting practices resulted in a reduction in carbon emissions within the water industry and therefore limited its liability for the carbon price.

Originality/value

This paper illustrates how the strong ST ontological concept of position-practices can be utilized at the macro, meso, and ontic levels and how these relationships mediated the impact of the carbon price upon both the water industry and the individual water business.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 29 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 14 June 2013

Javed Siddiqui

The paper seeks to respond to calls by Jones for more studies exploring the possibility of operationalising accounting for biodiversity.

Abstract

Purpose

The paper seeks to respond to calls by Jones for more studies exploring the possibility of operationalising accounting for biodiversity.

Design/methodology/approach

Archival data are used to produce a natural inventory report for the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2007.

Findings

The study extends prior research on biodiversity accounting by exploring the applicability of Jones' natural inventory model in the context of Bangladesh. The results indicate that application of Jones' natural inventory model is feasible in the context of developing countries such as Bangladesh. It is also recognised that the socio‐economic and political environment prevailing in developing economies may lead to the emergence of important stakeholder groups including local civil society bodies, international donor agencies and foreign governments. Biodiversity accounting may provide a legitimate basis for the government in allaying concerns regarding environmental stewardship and assist in negotiations with powerful stakeholder groups on important issues such as financial assistance after natural disasters and claims to the global climate change fund.

Originality/value

This is one of the early attempts to operationalise biodiversity accounting in the context of a developing economy.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 26 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Book part
Publication date: 14 December 2015

Shamima Haque

This chapter explains how the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an important achievement of the Rio Earth Summit held in 1992, instigated…

Abstract

This chapter explains how the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an important achievement of the Rio Earth Summit held in 1992, instigated interest in, and enthusiasm for, the fight against climate change in the international arena, promoting national actions, creating common frameworks and motivating corporations to take action against climate change. The Convention recognised climate change as a problem in 1994 when the UNFCCC took effect, which was remarkable considering that there was much less scientific evidence available at that time. Through extensive literature review, this chapter presents the origin and content of the Convention and explains how it creates new international instruments for mitigating climate change, its impact on corporate climate change-related accountability practices and where it stands now after 20 years in operation. The researcher argues that there is a need for strong cooperation among national and international actors such as governments, companies, national and international non-governmental organisations and international governmental organisations in order to create climate change-related accountability.

Details

Sustainability After Rio
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-444-7

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Article
Publication date: 25 October 2011

Jonathan Boston and Frieder Lempp

This paper has two main purposes. First, it considers the detrimental effects of four politically‐salient asymmetries on the policy choices of liberal democracies when…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper has two main purposes. First, it considers the detrimental effects of four politically‐salient asymmetries on the policy choices of liberal democracies when dealing with the problem of human‐induced climate change. Second, it outlines and evaluates possible solutions for reducing or countering these asymmetries.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach involves an analysis and evaluation of policy options based on a survey of the relevant literature.

Findings

The paper highlights the serious mismatch between the magnitude and urgency of the climate change problem and the current political will to overcome or mitigate the problem. Although four categories of potential solutions, and the various mechanisms through which they might operate, are discussed, it is recognized that all the available options have significant drawbacks, not least limited political feasibility and doubtful effectiveness. In short, action within liberal democracies to mitigate climate change is likely to remain seriously constrained by the four asymmetries discussed, thus increasing the risk of dangerous climate change.

Originality/value

The paper highlights the complexities, both international and national, of confronting human‐induced climate change. In particular, it identifies four systemic reasons, in the form of politically‐salient asymmetries, why liberal democracies have struggled to take effective measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provides a systematic assessment of possible solutions to these asymmetries. These include changes to accounting frameworks to ensure that the impact of humanity on the environment and future generations is more transparent.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 24 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 15 June 2015

Jill Atkins, Barry Colin Atkins, Ian Thomson and Warren Maroun

The purpose of this paper is to attempt to provide a ray of hope, in the form of a Morris-style utopian dream of a sustainable world, as a basis for new forms of accounting

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to attempt to provide a ray of hope, in the form of a Morris-style utopian dream of a sustainable world, as a basis for new forms of accounting and accountability in contemporary society.

Design/methodology/approach

The method is four-fold, weaving together an auto-ethnographic approach, a contextual dialogue between accounting academics and lobbyists, a Morris-inspired utopian metaphor and a stakeholder accountability event in the form of oral disclosures written as a song cycle.

Findings

Current efforts at integrated reporting are unlikely to change how large companies do business in order to address the risk of climate change in the short term. If the UN reports on climate change are correct, the authors need to take immediate action. The authors argue that, instead of waiting for climatic disaster to lead to a paradigm shift in corporate practice, “monetisation” of the costs of climate change is one way to encourage integrated thinking and sustainable business models. This relies on existing finance and accounting discourse to create a new “field of environmental visibility” which engenders environmental awareness on the part of the world’s companies and policy makers.

Practical implications

This utopian image may not appear a practicable, realistic solution to current problems but represents a starting point for optimism. It provides inspiration for policy makers to develop better forms of sustainability reporting, more suitable to the accelerating rates of climatic change.

Originality/value

To the authors’ knowledge this is the first attempt to develop Morris’s News From Nowhere as a basis for building new forms of accounting and accountability.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 28 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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