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Voluntary greenhouse gas emissions: A framework for analysis
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 09:15 authored by Rong Qing Bao
Australia's National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 (NGER Act 2007) establishes a mandatory framework for corporate reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, not all businesses meet the NGER's mandatory reporting threshold. Ninety-five per cent of listed companies are estimated to fall outside the scope of the legislation. This thesis investigates how corporations outside the ambit of the NGER Act 2007 meet their GHG reporting obligations. It examines the extent to which a framework can be developed to achieve a trade-off between its mandatory and voluntary GHG reporting practices. The thesis undertakes a systematic review of 62 peer-reviewed articles from 2008 to 2016 relating to voluntary GHG reporting practice in Australia, and a content analysis of 2013 annual reports, sustainability reports and Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) reports from four Australian listed companies and two local government councils. The analysis reveals that the voluntary GHG reporting practices of entities (corporate and local government) that are not subject to the NGER regime lack consistency, comparability and transparency. California's voluntary GHG reporting regime is then contrasted with Australia's. Under its cap-and-trade regulation, California has developed a robust voluntary GHG reporting program within a framework that requires local governments and organisations to design a consistent assessment mechanism to keep track of their GHG emission allowances. The results make it clear that formal emissions reporting regimes foster a systematic and improved voluntary GHG disclosure culture. The thesis concludes by suggesting that for Australia to achieve verifiable emissions reductions in line with its international commitments, the way forward is to adopt a framework akin to California's voluntary GHG reporting under mandatory legislation.