Year

2012

Degree Name

Master of Accounting - Research

Department

School of Accounting and Finance

Abstract

Environmental accounting has become an attractive area of research; in particular, research on environmental disclosure has received increased focus in the accounting discipline. This thesis investigates and explores the environmental accounting disclosures of Australian oil and gas companies by analysing and examining corporate reports. An interpretative approach to social science research is applied in this study using the research method of interpretative content analysis. The study is conducted on the 10 largest Australian oil and gas companies listed in ASX, and the data is extracted from the Annual Reports and other stand-alone sustainability reports of the selected companies over the period 2005-2010.

The findings show that corporate environmental disclosure trend of the studied companies fluctuated during the study period (2005-2010). However, since 2007, corporate environmental disclosure of most of the selected companies has improved. In addition, the findings indicate that most of the disclosed information is considered to be general environmental information and classified under two main categories; firstly, the category of general environmental disclosure and secondly the category of biodiversity and land. Furthermore, the findings support the applicability of legitimacy theory, through analysing the corporate environmental disclosures; a large volume of these disclosures were of favourable environmental information. The findings also show that most of the disclosed environmental information is non-financial information, disclosed in pure narrative.

Although, this study has limitations, it provides indications on the corporate environmental disclosures made by Australian Oil and Gas companies. The study also introduces some areas of future research such as: 1) a study to determine the influence that change of the Federal Government from Liberal Government to Labour Government may have on the environmental disclosures practice. 2) A similar study to examine the influence of applying Carbon Emissions Pricing by the Australian government on the environmental disclosures.

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