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Corporate GHG Emission Disclosures Take Centre Stage at the 4th Meeting of the Climate Science Journal Club

By Rhoda Ladjer Akuaku | Feb. 26, 2024

By Rhoda Ladjer Akuaku & Stephen Bannah

The AuthorAID Climate Science Journal Club held its 4th meeting on Friday 2nd February, 2024. The article discussed was “Mandatory disclosure would reveal corporate carbon damages“, co-authored by Michael Greenstone, Christian Leuz, and Patricia Breuer which was published in Science. This was attended by about 40 participants from different Global South countries. The session was moderated by Stephen Bannah and Rhoda Ladjer Akuaku.

Key Highlights of the Presentation

The discussant, Mr King Duho presented an insightful review of the paper, focusing on the concepts, the methodologies and the key lessons that Global South climate science researchers need to consider. He noted that though the title is about mandatory disclosure, currently there are only voluntary disclosure mandates but the current system provides an avenue to direct future policy. 

... though the title is about mandatory disclosure, currently there are only voluntary disclosure mandates but the current system provides an avenue to direct future policy. 

He emphasised that researching climate change issues can be very complex if you want to go into archival studies because getting data can be very hard. He noted that, you may have a good research question, but the data available will not be able to answer those questions especially for those from Asia, Africa and other global south countries.

The discussant mentioned that this study is more of a financial and economic study. For businesses for instance, climate change issues are a lot of the time about disclosure. Businesses ought to tell whatever they are doing on their climate change to serve as a benchmark for stakeholders in their contribution towards combating climate change. He noted that the researchers found that generally, there is a variety in the level of carbon damage reported among industries, firms and countries. He indicated that the researchers discovered that energy intensive industries have the highest carbon damages as they contribute up to 89% of the global carbon damages. He also included that the financial services market contributes less to carbon damages as found by the researchers.

He highlighted that for an effective study to be done in the Global South on similar issues, energy intensive industries that are more likely to cause higher carbon damages should be considered. For him, a mandatory disclosure system by industries and firms should be encouraged and backed by law with punitive measures. He argued that with this mandatory disclosure system, all firms and industries would be bound to disclosing GHG emissions. 

He indicated that mostly the size of the data set does not guarantee a research to be published at a top tier journal rather the research question and the research design.

Discussions and Noteworthy Contributions

Some issues raised at the event included why researchers from the Global South are unable to publish in good journals. The discussant indicated that most of the data in African countries are qualitative hence makes it difficult to quantify the issues and address them which is a possible drawback on studies from the Global South. He appreciated the study discussed as very insightful, well presented in a concise manner but addresses global issues and hence attracting global attention. He advised that similar strategies could be utilised by researchers from the Global South to get their works published at high ranking journals. 

He indicated that mostly the size of the data set does not guarantee a research to be published at a top tier journal rather the research question and the research design. He argued that though the study produces a huge data set, it is not compulsory to use a huge data set as the value of the study is based on the research question, not the size of the data. He therefore encouraged researchers from the Global South to focus on a research question that can draw global attention even if it is hailing from a small country with a small data set. 

A participant raised a question asking, “In the study, why does the US seem to have less greenhouse gas emission ranking and low on carbon damage?”. Responding to this, the discussant explained that the US is likely to be exporting its GHG emissions as some of the US firms import (from other countries) some products from firms that operate in high GHG emission industries. Those countries will record high emissions as compared to the US, given that the focus here is on scope 1 which focuses on the direct emissions of the firms.

... researchers from the Global South to focus on a research question that can draw global attention even if it is hailing from a small country with a small data set. 

Concluding Remarks

By way of ending the meeting, the discussions focused on issues like benchmarking, auditability of GHG disclosures and avenues for new data which Global South researchers can explore. For instance, businesses use industrial and sectorial averages a lot in making decisions and with some businesses having very high carbon damages above the average damages, there is a general understanding that in the near future publication of the carbon damages will force high emitters to reduce their emissions.

The full recording of the session can be assessed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVbMBt2chas, meeting materials are downloaded here and the presentation deck here.

Previous Club Meeting Recordings

1st Meeting: https://www.authoraid.info/en/news/details/1792/

2nd Meeting: https://www.authoraid.info/en/news/details/1813/

Call for Discussants and New Research Presenters

We have an open call for climate science researchers to join and lead upcoming sessions as discussants. Also, we have opportunities for researchers with working papers or ideas directly linked to climate science to share their research for constructive feedback from the community.

To join the club kindly use the link below to join our WhatsApp group: https://chat.whatsapp.com/E1hhLTlM2XV7TGFUxjyEIo

Next Event

The next event will be held on Friday, March 1st 2024. 

The time is 12:00 PM GMT [also 5:30 PM IST (India); or 6:00 AM CST]

The article under review is:

Christensen, H. B., Hail, L., & Leuz, C. (2021). Mandatory CSR and sustainability reporting: Economic analysis and literature review. Review of Accounting Studies, 26(3), 1176-1248. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11142-021-09609-5 (open access)

For more information, please go to: https://www.authoraid.info/en/events/details/266/

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