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Manuscript deadline
15 December 2020

Cover image - Social and Environmental Accountability Journal

Social and Environmental Accountability Journal

Special Issue Editor(s)

Robert Charnock, University of Birmingham, UK
[email protected]

Ian Thomson, University of Birmingham, UK
[email protected]

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Accounting and Climate Finance: Engaging with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Following our recent commentary (Charnock & Thomson, 2019), we are calling on SEA scholars to engage with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC synthesize climate research to provide an authoritative evidential basis for national and international climate talks and policies. To date, economics has been the main voice of the social sciences within the IPCC synthesis reports. Yet the IPCC claims that this is because other disciplines are not reaching out with their relevant peer reviewed insights (Skea, 2019).

The IPCC’s 3rd Working Group (WG III) is synthesising research on climate finance but have faced serious difficulty in gathering academic work. While the lack of an agreed definition is something the IPCC look to remedy (IPCC, 2017b), climate finance often refers to “the financial resources dedicated to adapting to and mitigating climate change globally, including in the context of financial flows to developing countries.” (UNFCCC, 2018, p. 21). It is therefore seen as playing an integral part in transforming industries in line with low-carbon transitions, ensuring developed nations support mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing nations, and creating conditions for technological innovation (IPCC, 2014).

Of course, SEA research on climate change extends far beyond finance. But our work and insights build a foundation for further, deeper and ongoing engagement into the possibilities and problems of climate finance becoming central to achieving global climate goals. This special issue provides one starting point for engaging with the IPCC. They are a key member of our audience, one that has turned to the social sciences, hoping that we can re-present existing insights and cases with an emphasis on their policy- and IPCC-relevant aspects.

WG III have provided an array of key themes where insight is required (IPCC, 2017b). As explored in our commentary, we see a range of SEA insights as being highly relevant to the IPCC, from those on how to measure and account for carbon emissions, to financial sector risk assessments (Coulson & Monks, 1999; Busch & Hoffmann, 2007; Bebbington & Larrinaga-González, 2008; Bebbington et al., 2019) and accountability, governance and regulatory dynamics (Gond & Piani, 2013; Macve & Chen, 2010; O’Sullivan & O’Dwyer, 2015).

They have called on us to reach out, and this special issue is one opportunity to do so. We also see potential links between the special issue paper development process and any social and environmental accounting fringe events at COP 26 in late-2020.

The key point is that the IPCC is in dire need of research insights from communities such as ours (IPCC, 2017a, p. 35). They have defined their problem space, evidence gaps and information requirement, which we suggest are a useful resource in identifying topics of relevance to this special issue (IPCC, 2017b).

In line with SEAJ's commitment to providing a forum for diverse forms of policy-oriented articles, scholarly output, short pieces, commentaries, literature reviews, polemics, essays and reviews, we welcome submissions relevant to the special issue topics taking any of these forms. Relevant topics to this special issue include, but are not restricted to:

  • Accounting’s roles in the politics of a financialized atmosphere
  • Climate finance accountabilities between nations, especially regarding United Nations mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund and Article 9 of the Paris Agreement
  • Measuring and accounting for the carbon emissions impact of climate finance activities
  • Applications of scenario analysis and stress testing within climate finance and investment
  • Alignment of organisational, national and international climate finance targets and policies
  • Enabling conditions for changing investment and lending patterns
  • The impact (or otherwise) of disclosures on investment and lending communities
  • Integration of climate change into strategic investment planning
  • Organisation-level use of low- and zero-carbon technology roadmaps for investment planning
  • Bridging temporal gaps between long-term impacts and short-term investment decisions
  • Multi-disciplinary conceptual research insights on climate finance, such as an accounting perspective on the concept of transformation (see Fazey et al., 2018; also see Charnock & Thomson, 2019)
  • Conceptual analysis of accounting’s potential roles in climate finance (see Bebbington et al., 2019, which draws on Miller & Power, 2013)
  • Case studies pertaining to climate finance and climate risk assessment
  • Emerging trends across climate finance, including investors’ views on and usage of climate finance and climate risk assessment

Authors are encouraged to contact the Guest Editors to discuss proposed contributions:
Robert Charnock, University of Birmingham, UK, ([email protected])
Ian Thomson, University of Birmingham, UK, ([email protected]).


 Bebbington, J., & Larrinaga-González, C. (2008). Carbon Trading: Accounting and Reporting Issues. European Accounting Review, 17(4), 697–717.

Bebbington, J., Schneider, T., Stevenson, L., & Fox, A. (2019). Fossil fuel reserves and resources reporting and unburnable carbon: Investigating conflicting accounts. Critical Perspectives on Accounting. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpa.2019.04.004

Busch, T., & Hoffmann, V. H. (2007). Emerging carbon constraints for corporate risk management. Ecological Economics, 62(3–4), 518–528. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2006.05.022

Charnock, R., & Thomson, I. (2019). A Pressing Need to Engage with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: The Role of SEA Scholars in Syntheses of Social Science Climate Research. Social and Environmental Accountability Journal, 39(3), 192–199. https://doi.org/10.1080/0969160X.2019.1677258

Coulson, A., & Monks, V. (1999). Corporate Environmental Performance Considerations Within Bank Lending Decisions. Eco-Management & Auditing (Wiley), 6(1), 1–10.

Fazey, I., Moug, P., Allen, S., Beckmann, K., Blackwood, D., Bonaventura, M., Burnett, K., Danson, M., Falconer, R., Gagnon, A. S., Harkness, R., Hodgson, A., Holm, L., Irvine, K. N., Low, R., Lyon, C., Moss, A., Moran, C., Naylor, L., … Wolstenholme, R. (2018). Transformation in a changing climate: A research agenda. Climate and Development, 10(3), 197–217. https://doi.org/10.1080/17565529.2017.1301864

Gond, J.-P., & Piani, V. (2013). Enabling Institutional Investors’ Collective Action The Role of the Principles for Responsible Investment Initiative. Business & Society, 52(1), 64–104. https://doi.org/10.1177/0007650312460012

IPCC. (2014). Climate Change 2014 Mitigation of Climate Change: Working Group III Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415416

IPCC. (2017a). Chair’s Vision Paper (AR6 Scoping Meeting). https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/11/AR6-Chair-Vision-Paper.pdf

IPCC. (2017b). Chapter Outline of the Working Group III Contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) (Forty-Sixth Session of the IPCC). IPCC. https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/03/AR6_WGIII_outlines_P46.pdf

Macve, R., & Chen, X. (2010). The “equator principles”: A success for voluntary codes? Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 23(7), 890–919. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513571011080171

Miller, P., & Power, M. (2013). Accounting, Organizing, and Economizing: Connecting Accounting Research and Organization Theory. The Academy of Management Annals, 7(1), 557–605. https://doi.org/10.1080/19416520.2013.783668

O’Sullivan, N., & O’Dwyer, B. (2015). The structuration of issue-based fields: Social accountability, social movements and the Equator Principles issue-based field. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 43, 33–55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aos.2015.03.008

Skea, J. (2019, January 28). Birmingham Leading Thinkers Lecture: Professor Jim Skea. Birmingham Leading Thinkers Lecture, University of Birmingham. https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/university/colleges/les/events/2019/jim-skea.aspx

UNFCCC. (2018). UNFCCC Standing Committee on Finance: 2018 Biennial Assessment and Overview of Climate Finance Flows Technical Report. https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/2018%20BA%20Technical%20Report%20Final%20Feb%202019.pdf

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Submission Instructions

The closing date for submissions for this special issue is the 15th December 2020. Early expressions of interest and submissions are encouraged. All papers will be reviewed in line with SEAJ's normal procedures.

Authors interested in contributing to this Special Issue of SEAJ should follow the ‘Instructions for Authors’ link and submit their manuscripts to the SEAJ online submission system selecting this special issue below.

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