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As frames collide: Making sense of carbon accounting


Ascui, F and Lovell, HC, As frames collide: Making sense of carbon accounting, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability, 24, (8) pp. 978-999. ISSN 1368-0668 (2011) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2011 Emerald Group Publishing Limited

DOI: doi:10.1108/09513571111184724


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. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Sociology and social studies of science and technology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Lovell, HC (Professor Heather Lovell)
ID Code:99575
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:82
Deposited By:School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2015-03-27
Last Modified:2018-01-25

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