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Along with the development of environmental management accounting (EMA) in the past decade, a variety of management accounting and control tools have been designed and implemented to improve the measurement and management of corporate environmental performance and information. While the importance of EMA to corporate sustainability has been increasingly acknowledged, extant literature has drawn little attention on assessing and understanding EMA application and its effectiveness on the quality of carbon emission management and disclosure. Using data gathered of 114 large firms in the US, Germany, Australia and Japan, we find that many firms have applied some EMA tools, yet only a few have applied the full range of EMA tools. The empirical analysis reveals that EMA application has a signifi- cantly positive impact on both corporate carbon management and disclosure quality. Further analysis specifies that audit and benchmarking tools as well as control tools have significant effects on carbon management and disclosure, while for measurement tools no significant effects could be observed. Based on the results, implications are developed for management education and practitioners, which can help managers to make better informed choices for the application of EMA tools.
6. Discussion and conclusion
While the importance of using EMA tools has been increasingly acknowledged in extant literature (e.g. Ascui, 2014; Bennett et al., 2003; Burritt and Saka, 2006; Ferreira et al., 2010), little attention has been paid on assessing and understanding the application of different EMA tools and their effectiveness on carbon management and disclosure. Using data gathered with the Corporate Sustainability Barometer survey of large companies in Germany, Australia, Japan and the USA, and data on the carbon performance and disclosure collected from the CDP database, this study finds a relatively low level of application of EMA tools. While this may reflect uncertainty among managers concerning the effectiveness of EMA, our study shows that the use of EMA tools is positively and significantly associated with carbon management and disclosure quality.
With regard to the challenge outlined in the introduction, i.e. staying within the carrying capacity of the earth, the findings show that EMA tools are effective in managing carbon emissions. They are useful for managers to address the challenge of climate change and to become more aware of carbon emissions. These results complement several prior studies on the effects of other groups of management tools (e.g. sustainability management tools, product design tools; see Horisch et al., 2015a € ), or of some individual tools (e.g. eco-control or company internal emission trading schemes (Henri and Journeault, 2010; Horisch, 2013 € ), on corporate carbon performance. In this regard, a further challenge for practitioners is to decide which tools to use and which EMA tools are most effective.