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Does voluntary carbon disclosure reflect underlying carbon performance?

Le Luo and Qingliang Tang

Journal of Contemporary Accounting and Economics, 2014, vol. 10, issue 3, 191-205

Abstract: Carbon information is becoming more and more important in the decision making of stakeholders, but there is growing concern regarding the reliability of corporate carbon disclosure and a lack of empirical studies addressing this issue. The purpose of this paper is to examine whether voluntary carbon disclosure reflects firms’ true carbon performance. Level of carbon disclosure was measured based on content analysis of Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) reports, and our carbon performance index focused on both carbon intensity of emissions and carbon mitigation. Based on a sample of 474 U.S., U.K., and Australian firms, our findings show a significant positive association between carbon disclosure and performance, suggesting that firms’ voluntary carbon disclosure in the CDP is indicative of their underlying actual carbon performance. This result is consistent with signalling theory. Our findings are useful for corporate stakeholders and governmental policymakers who are concerned about the quality of voluntary greenhouse gas disclosure.

Keywords: Carbon disclosure; Carbon performance; Signalling theory; Carbon Disclosure Project (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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Journal of Contemporary Accounting and Economics is currently edited by Agnes C.S. Cheng, P. Clarkson, F.A. Gul, Zoltan Matolcsy, Dan Simunic and Ben Srinidhi

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