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As frames collide: making sense of carbon accounting

As frames collide: making sense of carbon accounting Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to make sense of the tensions and contradictions between different conceptions of the meaning of carbon accounting. Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws on theories of framing to help explain the divergent understandings and practices currently encompassed by the term “carbon accounting”. The empirical core of the paper is based on a review of the literature and illustrated through examples of some of the contemporary problems in carbon accounting. Findings – Tensions and contradictions in carbon accounting can be understood as the result of “collisions” between at least five overlapping frames of reference, namely physical, political, market‐enabling, financial and social/environmental modes of carbon accounting. Practical implications – Unresolved tensions in carbon accounting can undermine confidence in climate science, policies, markets and reporting, thereby ultimately discouraging action to mitigate climate change. Understanding this problem can contribute to finding practical solutions. Originality/value – The paper makes three distinct contributions to the emerging theoretical literature on carbon accounting. First, it provides a unique “unpacked” definition of carbon accounting that attempts to represent the contemporary range of meanings encompassed by the term. Second, it demonstrates how social science ideas about framing can help explain why definitions and understandings of carbon accounting vary. Third, by making the interactions between different forms of carbon accounting explicit through the metaphor of colliding frames of reference, the origins of some of the contemporary intractable issues in carbon accounting can be better understood. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal Emerald Publishing

As frames collide: making sense of carbon accounting

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2011 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0951-3574
DOI
10.1108/09513571111184724
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to make sense of the tensions and contradictions between different conceptions of the meaning of carbon accounting. Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws on theories of framing to help explain the divergent understandings and practices currently encompassed by the term “carbon accounting”. The empirical core of the paper is based on a review of the literature and illustrated through examples of some of the contemporary problems in carbon accounting. Findings – Tensions and contradictions in carbon accounting can be understood as the result of “collisions” between at least five overlapping frames of reference, namely physical, political, market‐enabling, financial and social/environmental modes of carbon accounting. Practical implications – Unresolved tensions in carbon accounting can undermine confidence in climate science, policies, markets and reporting, thereby ultimately discouraging action to mitigate climate change. Understanding this problem can contribute to finding practical solutions. Originality/value – The paper makes three distinct contributions to the emerging theoretical literature on carbon accounting. First, it provides a unique “unpacked” definition of carbon accounting that attempts to represent the contemporary range of meanings encompassed by the term. Second, it demonstrates how social science ideas about framing can help explain why definitions and understandings of carbon accounting vary. Third, by making the interactions between different forms of carbon accounting explicit through the metaphor of colliding frames of reference, the origins of some of the contemporary intractable issues in carbon accounting can be better understood.

Journal

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 25, 2011

Keywords: Carbon accounting; Framing; Commensuration; Carbon markets; Carbon disclosure; Carbon; Climate change

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