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A longitudinal study of carbon disclosure strategy: evidence from utility, energy and mining industries in the UK

Liu, Y. S. and Yang, J. ORCID: (2014) A longitudinal study of carbon disclosure strategy: evidence from utility, energy and mining industries in the UK. In: 26th International Congress on Social and Environmental Accounting Research and Emerging Scholars Colloquium, 26 - 29 August 2014, St Andrews, Scotland. (Liu, Y. and Yang, J. (2014). A Longitudinal Study of Carbon Disclosure Strategy: Evidence from Utility, Energy and Mining Industries in the UK. International Congress on Social and Environmental Accounting Research, University of St Andrews.)

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The paper investigates how energy-intensive industries respond to the recent government-led carbon emission schemes through the content analysis of 306 annual and standalone reports of 25 UK listed companies from 2004 to 2012. This period of reporting captures the trend and development of corporate disclosures on carbon emissions after the launch of EU Emissions Trading Schemes (ETS) and Climate Change Act (CCA) 2008. It is found that in corresponding to strategic legitimacy theory, there is an increase in both the quality and quantity of carbon disclosures as a response to these initiatives. However, the change is gradual, which reflects in the achievement of peak disclosure period two years after the launch. It indicates that the new legislations have a lasting impact on the discourses rather than an immediate legitimacy threat from the perspective of institutional legitimacy theory. The results also show that carbon disclosures are an institutionalised practice as companies in the same industries and/or with same carbon trading account status appear to imitate and adopt the industry’s ‘best practice’ disclosure strategy to maintain legitimacy. The trend analysis suggests that the overall disclosure practice is still in its infant stage, especially in the reporting of quantitative and monetary items. The paper contributes to the social and environmental accounting literature by adopting both strategic and institutional view of legitimacy, which explains why carbon disclosures evolve in a specific way to meet the expectation of various stakeholders.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions:Henley Business School > Business Informatics, Systems and Accounting
ID Code:37483
Uncontrolled Keywords:Carbon emissions, carbon disclosures, content analysis, institutional legitimacy theory.

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