Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Accounting, Finance and Economics
Climate change and carbon emissions have become an important issue for companies, not only if companies are to maintain legitimacy as good corporate citizens but also financially with the regulation of carbon emissions and the impending introduction of the Australian Emission Trading Scheme (AETS). This paper investigates the role of financial auditors in the climate change debate. Content analysis of the websites of fifteen large auditors in Australia reveals different reactions to this issue, from reacting to proposed legislation to proposing initiatives proactively and providing guidelines for companies. Analysis of the websites from a random sample of companies audited by these auditors reveals a positive association between the level of carbon awareness of financial auditors and the companies they audit. The results highlight the important role financial auditors play in the climate change debate and suggest the reclassification of carbon issues as financial information to facilitate the financial audit process. Additionally, this would address concerns regarding the reliability of data on the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) website.