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Private climate change reporting: an emerging discourse of risk and opportunity?

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  • Jill F. Solomon
  • Aris Solomon
  • Simon D. Norton
  • Nathan L. Joseph
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    Abstract

    Purpose – This paper aims to explore the nature of the emerging discourse of private climate change reporting, which takes place in one-on-one meetings between institutional investors and their investee companies. Design/methodology/approach – Semi-structured interviews were conducted with representatives from 20 UK investment institutions to derive data which was then coded and analysed, in order to derive a picture of the emerging discourse of private climate change reporting, using an interpretive methodological approach, in addition to explorative analysis using NVivo software. Findings – The authors find that private climate change reporting is dominated by a discourse of risk and risk management. This emerging risk discourse derives from institutional investors' belief that climate change represents a material risk, that it is the most salient sustainability issue, and that their clients require them to manage climate change-related risk within their portfolio investment. It is found that institutional investors are using the private reporting process to compensate for the acknowledged inadequacies of public climate change reporting. Contrary to evidence indicating corporate capture of public sustainability reporting, these findings suggest that the emerging private climate change reporting discourse is being captured by the institutional investment community. There is also evidence of an emerging discourse of opportunity in private climate change reporting as the institutional investors are increasingly aware of a range of ways in which climate change presents material opportunities for their investee companies to exploit. Lastly, the authors find an absence of any ethical discourse, such that private climate change reporting reinforces rather than challenges the “business case” status quo. Originality/value – Although there is a wealth of sustainability reporting research, there is no academic research on private climate change reporting. This paper attempts to fill this gap by providing rich interview evidence regarding the nature of the emerging private climate change reporting discourse.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal.

    Volume (Year): 24 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 8 (October)
    Pages: 1119-1148

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    Handle: RePEc:eme:aaajpp:v:24:y:2011:i:8:p:1119-1148

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    Postal: Emerald Group Publishing, Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley, BD16 1WA, UK
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    Related research

    Keywords: Climate change; Private climate change reporting; Risk discourse; Risk management; Risk society; Sustainability reporting;

    References

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Hines, Ruth D., 1988. "Financial accounting: In communicating reality, we construct reality," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 251-261, April.
    2. Pushkala Prasad & Michael Elmes, 2005. "In the Name of the Practical: Unearthing the Hegemony of Pragmatics in the Discourse of Environmental Management," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(4), pages 845-867, 06.
    3. Giles Atkinson, 2000. "Measuring Corporate Sustainability," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(2), pages 235-252.
    4. Jill Solomon & Aris Solomon & Nathan Joseph & Simon Norton, 2000. "Institutional Investors' Views on Corporate Governance Reform: policy recommendations for the 21st century," Corporate Governance: An International Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(3), pages 215-226, 07.
    5. Roberts, John & Sanderson, Paul & Barker, Richard & Hendry, John, 2006. "In the mirror of the market: The disciplinary effects of company/fund manager meetings," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 277-294, April.
    6. Jan Bebbington & Judy Brown & Bob Frame & Ian Thomson, 2007. "Theorizing engagement: the potential of a critical dialogic approach," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 20(3), pages 356-381, April.
    7. Jill Frances Solomon & Aris Solomon, 2006. "Private social, ethical and environmental disclosure," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 19(4), pages 564-591, July.
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    Cited by:
    1. Solomon, Jill F. & Solomon, Aris & Joseph, Nathan L. & Norton, Simon D., 2013. "Impression management, myth creation and fabrication in private social and environmental reporting: Insights from Erving Goffman," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 195-213.
    2. Markus J. Milne & Suzana Grubnic, 2011. "Climate change accounting research: keeping it interesting and different," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 24(8), pages 948-977, October.

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