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Accounting for Carbon: The Role of Accounting Professional Organisations in Governing Climate Change

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Since the turn of the century accounting professional organisations have been involved in a number of debates about climate change, catalysed initially by technical discussions about the treatment of European carbon credits in financial accounts. These bodies are positioning themselves as leading on climate change, for example, through launching professional training courses, funding research, and initiating corporate workshops and seminars. The paper examines the role of the accountancy profession in governing the new carbon economy. We review climate change related activities undertaken by accountancy professional bodies through drawing on primary empirical material, including interviews with accountants, accountancy standard setters and professional bodies. A mix of theories about the role of calculation, measurement and expertise in governance are used to help explain and understand the situation, including ideas about accountancy and society, epistemic communities, and governmentality.

Keywords: accountancy; accounting profession organisations; climate change; epistemic community; governmentality; measurement

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK;, Email: 2: School of Social and Political Studies, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK;, Email:

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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