A review of carbon accounting in the social and environmental accounting literature: What can it contribute to the debate?

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Abstract

This paper sets out to understand how carbon accounting has been tackled in the social and environmental accounting (SEA) literature, in order then to investigate what the preoccupations and gaps in this literature might tell us about the SEA ‘project’ more generally. It finds that the SEA literature on carbon accounting is already large, fast-growing, rich and varied. There is a mix of critical, philosophical or normative discussions about carbon accounting, and empirical studies of carbon accounting, with specific clusters of papers in carbon management accounting, carbon financial accounting, carbon disclosure and reporting, and carbon accounting education. Nevertheless, when compared with the scope of carbon accounting in practice, it is evident that there is considerable potential for SEA researchers to broaden their engagement with other types of carbon accounting, in particular market-enabling, physical and political forms, and to collaborate with other professions and practitioners. Carbon accounting could be emancipatory: attracting new researchers into the SEA field, encouraging greater interdisciplinary cooperation and mutual learning, offering tremendous opportunities for engagement with practice and education, and helping to imagine new accountings free from the shackles of conventional accounting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-28
Number of pages23
JournalSocial and Environmental Accountability Journal
Volume34
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jan 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2014

Keywords

  • carbon accounting
  • carbon reporting
  • carbon disclosure

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