The Ethical Issues In Accounting Accounting Essay

This paper will analyse the relationship between the comptroller and the environment by first looking into the construct and history of green accounting. We so look into the function of the comptroller in green accounting and discourse the ethical issues related to this subject. We farther discourse the proficient inside informations of green accounting and some current illustrations of its application today. We close out our treatment by looking at the hereafter of green accounting.

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An emerging subject within the accounting profession is the function of the comptroller on the environment. While accounting has legion of import maps in today ‘s society, many inquiry if the accounting profession has the duty to account for the environment. While minds like Milton Friedman believe that the lone societal duty of concern is to do net income, many believe that the function of the accounting pattern extends farther ( McPhail and Walters, 2009 ) . That is to state, many believe that the comptroller ‘s professional duties have increased in range due to the impulse of constructs such as environmental accounting. Environmental accounting, otherwise known as green accounting, can be defined as an accounting pattern in which the house factors environmental costs ( such as depletion of natural resources ) in add-on to fiscal consequences through concern operations. For illustration, a house may do air pollution or H2O pollution which causes important injury to natural life ( Flower, 2010 ) . This construct will be analyzed in item throughout our treatment. A In the undermentioned paragraphs, we will discourse the construct of green accounting, the ethical issues, the proficient facets associated with accounting and the environment, and the future mentality of environmental accounting.

Concept of Green Accounting

Human interaction with the environment has been a turning subject in today ‘s society, as planetary consciousness has shifted to implementing steps to protect the environment and continue natural resources. With this emerging consciousness, it follows that accounting and other systems have started to take answerability for the protection of the environment. As a consequence, steps have been taken to forestall negative outwardnesss at both the person and house degrees. The implicit in end of environmental accounting is for directors to be forced to account for all stakeholders, which includes animate beings and workss. While green accounting has assorted maps to be discussed, an of import end is to “ supply informations which highlights both the part of natural resources to economic wellbeing and the cost imposed by pollution and resource debasement ” ( Hecht, 2000 ) . A secondary, and every bit of import, end of green accounting is to integrate environmental benefits and costs into the house ‘s determination devising procedure. Another implicit in end is to assist do the economic system more sustainable and to garner information to understand the relationship between the economic system and the environment ( Hecht, 2000 ) .

While green accounting is more recognized in European states, most of our analysis will concentrate on the U.S. execution and advancement. Although green accounting ideals have been used since the 1970s as a direction tool, the U.S. lagged behind many states in its execution. While states such as Norway and Sweden adopted many Environmental Accounting patterns in the 1970s, the Environmental Accounting Project in the U.S. began in 1992 by the Bureau of Economic AnalysisA ( Hecht, 2000 ) . This arose from outside stakeholders ‘ concerns that directors were non accounting for environmental costs in the decision-making procedure ( Hecht, 2000 ) . Since the early 1990s, the usage of green accounting has become more widespread and has been adopted on the steadfast degree with greater consistence. Over the old ages, a cardinal issue has been the important dissensions in developing practical methods for environmental histories. This subject will be explored subsequently in our treatment. In the instance of the United States, the acceptance of the environmental accounting plan was fleetly terminated by Congress. This was in response to the expostulations of assorted resource-based industries that would be negatively affected by green accounting steps ( Hecht, 2000 ) . While the United States still undertakes a figure of steps which could be considered green accounting, the Bureau of Economic Analysis ( BEA ) was prohibited from utilizing its financess for environmental accounting. Harmonizing to the GAO, “ although this limitation has now been lifted, to day of the month no support has been appropriated for BEA to restart its work ” ( GAO, 2007 ) .

While the United States continues to fight in its execution, states across the universe continue to follow and develop the pattern. Many parties consider this a immense concern, as the United States consumes immense sums of natural resources and generates pollution in “ proportionally big measures ” compared to other states ( GAO, 2007 ) . Many believe that the United States ‘ absence in the environmental accounting procedure significantly delays more consistent and cosmopolitan constructs and patterns worldwide. This includes raising consciousness, obtaining support for the environmental histories, and doing the histories every bit utile as possible ( GAO, 2007 ) . By all histories, making a base for environmental accounting and obtaining support for environmental histories will take a long term committedness. However, the BEA has shown its committedness to the long-run benefits that the environmental accounting constructs can supply nationally.

In decision, green accounting arose partly because stakeholders were concerned that house directors would non follow pollution bar steps by their ain pick, as it by and large would non better the company ‘s ‘bottom line ‘ . Therefore, the intent of environmental accounting is to coerce house directors to acknowledge the environmental costs of non-prevention and the economic benefits of pollution bar ( Boje, 1999 ) . A The implicit in end of this construct is to “ convey about organisational alterations towards sustainability by making visibleness to environmental facets of the house ” ( Boje, 1999 ) . This is meant to give revelation to all stakeholders on the harmful environmental effects of the house ‘s actions. Therefore, the comptroller plays a important function in ciphering benefits and costs of implementing pollution-cutting steps, which we will discourse in the undermentioned subdivision.

Role of the Accountant in Environmental Accounting

In recent old ages, environmental accounting has gained important popularity on the house degree, ensuing in houses doing environmental costs a portion of their decision-making procedure. This may raise the inquiry, what is the motive for the house to do environmental costs a variable in their decision-making procedure? Many companies hire environmental comptrollers to cipher the costs of following steps to cut pollution, and comparing these costs to possible benefits. Specifically, the comptroller can help the house in the countries of hazard appraisal, capital budgeting and investing assessment, and within the internal coverage mechanism ( Wilmshurst, 2000 ) . Benefits come in the signifier of revenue enhancement credits for utilizing authorities approved methods and for following authorities ordinances ( Jobin, 2011 ) . Therefore, authorities can play a important function in protecting the environment by supplying inducements for houses to do determinations in the best involvement of the environment. The comptroller can help in this function by ciphering extra costs to the house to cut pollution, while comparing these values to the revenue enhancement alleviation and other benefits the house could have ( Jobin, 2011 ) . Besides, the comptroller can lend in identifying environmental costs and can assist diminish these costs wherever possible. There are many environmental costs which can be overlooked, which green comptrollers can assist place. For illustration, many organisations do non recognize their C dioxide emanations, which the environmental comptroller can help with ( Hinter, 2009 ) . The comptroller can assist houses limit their environmental impact, make efficient usage of natural resources, cut down costs, and exhibit societal duty. Overall, a big benefit of environmental accounting is holding house ‘s invest in more environmentally friendly equipment and methods, all while supplying the house with a net income motivation to implement these steps. Now that we ‘ve discussed the function of the comptroller in respects to the environment, we will now look at the ethical issues environing the comptroller.

Ethical motives of Green Accounting

A major subject in environmental accounting is the construct of sustainability. Sustainability can be defined by the “ safeguarding of our natural resources and environmental resources for future coevalss, while besides advancing economic growing and keeping our quality of life ” ( GAO, 2007 ) . In order to measure sustainability, knowing persons require accurate and dependable informations. This raises the inquiry ; does the accounting profession have a professional duty towards sustainability? Harmonizing to John Flower, a cardinal thought in the construct of sustainability is that our current economic system is unsustainable in the long tally. Therefore, in order for the universe to go on to thrive, it is necessary that there are important alterations in adult male ‘s behaviour and the behaviour of houses ( Flower, 2010 ) . Flower contends that if houses, consumers, and authoritiess are provided with full information of the houses ‘ impact on sustainability, they will do right determinations, which will in bend lead to sustainable development ( Flower, 2010 ) . As mentioned in the preceding paragraph, the accounting profession can aide in supplying accurate and dependable information that is utile to consumers, houses, and authoritiess in the decision-making procedure. Therefore, the comptroller has the duty to sum up the house ‘s effects on the environment, including its usage of natural resources. This construct will be discussed in item with our treatment of the ternary bottom line construct.

As mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, the comptroller plays an of import function on the sustainability of the environment. In a similar manner, the comptroller plays a function in distributive justness. Harmonizing to Flower, sustainable development trades with the debasement of the environment, which is a important unfairness to secondary stakeholders as a consequence of the houses ‘ actions ( Flower, 2010 ) . Therefore, it follows that the distributive justness construct would necessitate the division of the gross watercourse to those stakeholders who are negatively affected. The environmental comptroller can play a function in measuring non-financial information such as ingestion of natural resources and pollution. This information, if dependable and accurate, can lend to distributive justness.

The accounting profession ‘s function on distributive justness and the sustainability of the environment leads us to the moralss of the environmental comptroller. As mentioned throughout our treatment, one of the comptroller ‘s functions is to sum up and unwrap environmental costs and the houses ‘ usage of the universe ‘s finite natural resources. With this information, consumers and houses can do determinations cognizing the house ‘s impact on the environment. Since full revelation of environmental impact and sustainability studies are non required in the United States, it is our belief that the United States does non presently fulfill all of its ethical demands to the environment. This belief is consistent with John Rawls ‘ ideals on moralss and cosmopolitan rules. Harmonizing to Rawls, an ethical action requires that an single put himself in ‘the original place. ‘ From this place of equality, one does non cognize what they might go, so they must see each place objectively. Therefore, since an person does non cognize whether they are to go person affected positively or negatively by an action or rule, they must weigh the morality of the action without prejudice. Merely in this place, Rawls claims, an person can put cosmopolitan rules that are morally right. In using this construct to the environment, the most logical decision is that the house has the duty to unwrap all material effects on the environment and sustainability. While the U.S. authorities provides revenue enhancement inducements for the house to be more environmentally witting, attempts for full revelation and development of environmental histories are no longer being funded by Congress ( GAO, 2007 ) . Rawls would most likely take the place that cosmopolitan rules would necessitate full revelation of all dependable and available information. In the original place, if one turned out to be a director of a house, they may non desire to unwrap their high pollution and ingestion of natural resources, in fright of public perceptual experience issues. However, from the position of a possible secondary stakeholder, such as a fisherman whose ocean is being polluted by the house, they would most likely want full revelation. Merely with full revelation will consumers, houses, and authoritiess be able to do informed determinations which will assist sustainability attempts. Therefore, an person in the original place must see the worst of effects, which would most likely entail that a cosmopolitan rule would necessitate full revelation of the houses ‘ environmental impact.

Technical Accounting for Environmental Costss

Environmental accounting efforts to supply a model for the digest of information sing natural resources and other environmental assets. The international community has categorized environmental histories into four distinguishable categorizations: the natural resources assets histories, the pollution and material physical flow histories, the pecuniary and intercrossed histories, and the environmentally-adjusted macroeconomic sums.

The first history we will discourse is the natural resource plus history, which chiefly focuses on stocks of natural resources. This histories ‘ information shows the gap and shutting balances and alterations to natural resource stocks. Changes to natural resource stocks are differentiated between alterations due to economic activity and alterations due to natural procedures. An illustration of a alteration due to economic activities would be mining natural resources or piscaries, where alterations from natural procedure would include the birth or decease of trees. Further, the plus histories are distinguished between physical plus histories and pecuniary plus histories. Physical plus histories track the physical sum of a peculiar resource whereas pecuniary plus histories create a pecuniary value for the entire national wealth of an single resource. Consequently, physical plus histories can assist directors oversee resources more efficaciously and see the effects of different policies on ecological sustainability. These histories are helpful for finding the entire wealth of a state, how diverse a state ‘s environmental assets are, and how vulnerable the assets are to fluctuations in monetary value.

The following classification of histories are the pollution and material physical flow histories, which provide information at an industry degree about natural resources used in economic activities and the negative by-products of such activities. Resources measured frequently include energy, H2O, and other stuffs whose by-product include effluent, solid waste, and emanations. The histories are normally organized to demo the beginning and finish of natural stuffs and possible pollution. A popular illustration is a physical flow history for C dioxide emissions over a period of clip.

Monetary and intercrossed histories are the 3rd class of environmental plus histories. These histories focus on outgos and revenue enhancements related to protecting and pull offing the environment. And there are five types of pecuniary and intercrossed histories, which are described below.

Environmental protection and resource direction expenditures histories place relevant outgos made by industries, the authorities, or families that consequence the environment or natural resources.

Environmental goods and services industry accounts see the part of environmental assets to factors of a state ‘s economic system, such as GDP, employment, and exports.

Environmental and resource revenue enhancement histories see revenue enhancements and levies collected by the authorities for pollution or usage of natural resources.

Monetary flow histories generate a pecuniary value for the costs and benefits from resource usage and pollution.

Hybrid flow histories display physical flow histories and pecuniary flow histories in one matrix.

Each of these histories provides information sing the costs of environmental ordinance and the effectivity of different policies. These histories can besides be used to measure the effects of outgos on industry monetary values, productiveness, and ability to vie internationally.

The concluding history class is environmentally-adjusted macroeconomic sums, which use the old three types of environmental histories to measure overall environmental wellness. An illustration of such an history is seting gross domestic merchandise to account for environmental costs and benefits. This could be effectual in placing possible policy jobs. However, such a step has been hard in application due to the deficiency of a standard environmental accounting method, ensuing in a deficiency of comparison between states. To farther our treatment on environmental histories, we will analyze the application of these histories in today ‘s society.

Application of Green Accounting

Environmental histories can be used to turn to the complicated environmental issue of climate alteration. Since clime alteration is a direct consequence of planetary economic enlargement throughout the last century, it is necessary for policy shapers to be able to link economic informations to environmental informations and develop policies that allow for economic growing and environmental protection. For illustration, international C trading has been vouched for by environmental accounting experts in an effort to profit states consciously continuing woods. Since woods act as C sinks, forest plus histories can be used to gauge alterations in C stocks. These histories can besides be used to assist states put a mark degree of C dioxide emanations that can be compared to existent consequences. Further, H2O histories can besides be effectual in mensurating environmental policy effects on clime alteration. Freshwater is diminishing due to the clime alteration and when combined with the increasing population, can make a job for our planet. The costs associated with purifying, storing, and obtaining fresh water are included in H2O histories. Besides, increasing sea degrees will ensue in high costs such as dikes and levees to forestall lifting H2O from covering land or destructing substructure. The costs of these preventive steps are besides included in H2O histories.

These histories mentioned are non required by GAAP. Furthermore, in fiscal coverage today, GAAP tends to concentrate on stockholders. GAAP histories for stockholders ownership in the concern and how they are affected by different minutess. A However, many philosophers believe that a company needs to make more than merely concentrate on their stockholders and fiscal wellbeing. These philosophers, such as John Ekington, advocator for an thought called the ternary bottom line. The ternary bottom line is a manner of valuing and mensurating the full impact of an organisations success. A By mensurating non merely the fiscal facet of the concern, the ternary bottom line looks at the organisations consequence on the planet and the stakeholders in the concern. For illustration, if a auto maker decides to construct a new works in Blacksburg, the company needs to non merely history for the fiscal impact of the works, but besides the societal and environmental impact of this works on the environing community. In this brief analysis of the ternary underside line, we ‘ll discourse how it came approximately and the advantages and disadvantages of it.

A A A A The thought of the ternary underside line was foremost looked at in the early 1980 ‘s when Freer Spreckley presented it in his publication Social Audit – A Management tool for Co-operative working ( Spreckley, 1981 ) . However, the phrase “ Triple Bottom Line ” was n’t coined until 1997 by John Elkington ( Brown ) . In the early 1990 ‘s, corporations were focused on cost-cutting. However, the concealed societal and environmental costs of those cost-cutting actions did n’t go evident until companies began to implement the ternary bottom line. For illustration, Nike had to analyze their sourcing policies and watch their ethical criterions of their providers ( Triple Bottom Line ) . In another illustration related to the environment, things such as indiscriminate logging of the Amazon basin have occurred.

Fast forward to today, and many articles and documents researched by our group are critical of how the ternary bottom line is being construed as it focuses on accounting. For illustration, in Frank Vanclays paper, Impact Assessment and the Triple Bottom Line: Competing Nerve pathwaies to Sustainability? , he states:

“ TBL is meant to be a manner of believing about corporate societal duty, non a method of accounting. On this point, Elkington ( 1997: 70 ) is unambiguous, comparing TBL to a Trojan Horse which is wheeled in by corporations. In the beginning they succumb to an accounting process, but finally they are meant to encompass a wider vision of sustainability. Unfortunately, excessively many bureaus and companies have non appreciated the doctrine behind TBL, and are reacting merely to the coverage demands. ”

To further this unfavorable judgment, Edward E. Lawler of Forbes magazine, wrote that traveling green can be really profitable. Companies like Wal-Mart have found that cut downing emanations and packaging stuffs have really reduced costs and this is making a mentality that in order to concentrate on sustainability, a company must concentrate on cut downing costs and maximising net incomes ( Lawler, 2012 ) . Lawler goes on to explicate a similar thought of Varclays:

The option to this profit-above-all attack is a sustainably effectual attack that focuses on the ternary bottom line of people, planet and net income. A Organizations that pattern and incorporate sustainability believing set it into all of their operations – they do non merely work on what leads to net incomes. A They integrate sustainability into their really DNA, and everything returns from that ”

The significance of these unfavorable judgments is to give grounds on how there has been excessively much focal point on the accounting and the related coverage demands and non plenty on the significance and execution behind the ternary bottom line. These unfavorable judgments come with advantages though and will be briefly discussed in the subsequent paragraph.

A A A A One of the chief supporting statements for the ternary bottom line is that it can turn the focal point from non merely fiscal additions but to environmental additions. Similar to what Lawler and Varclay reference in their unfavorable judgments, companies who can do an organisational broad alteration to concentrate on the ternary bottom line can make things that are non merely profitable but environmentally friendly. In most of the information found, when speaking about the advantages, research workers brought up the environmental betterments that can take topographic point and the potency for new concern chances that are sustainable ( Willard, 2012 ) .

A good illustration of the ternary bottom line execution is the green balance sheet, which is a recent development in environmental accounting. A green balance sheet considers all internal and external costs of a house ‘s activities. Examples would include side effects damaging worker wellness, emanations and pollution, depletion of finite natural resources, and others. A green balance sheet would besides hold to include internal and external environmental benefits generated by the house. Examples include nest eggs from decreases in pollution or more efficient usage of natural stuffs. The usage of these “ green histories ” helps better corporate societal duty by comparing the costs of forestalling environmental amendss to the costs of disciplinary activities.

Despite the positive benefits associated with green accounting, the existent execution of an accurate system has proven to be hard. There is no criterion for a green accounting system, which consequences in troubles when trying to compare the effectivity of different houses or states. To farther impede the version of a criterion green accounting system, the rating of relevant costs is hard, particularly when the natural resource being valued is non normally sold and many pollutants emitted by one state or house have adverse effects on another. Execution of a green accounting criterion would besides make troubles in mensurating the costs of protective outgos or harm already done to the environment. While the measuring of environmental costs and benefits will ever be hard to determine, the acceptance of a planetary green accounting criterion is necessary in order for green accounting information to supply important value.

Future Outlook and Conclusion

The future mentality of how accounting and environmental factors relate are in argument. In our research, we determined a bulk of our information is from European beginnings. Why is that? The United States Government Accountability Office conducted a survey on this titled Measuring Our State ‘s Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability. This survey provides a big sum of related information on green accounting. They begin by saying that many states such as Australia, Canada, France and some developing states have constituents of environmental accounting and are go oning to polish these histories like the 1s mentioned antecedently. The inquiry worth inquiring is, where is the United States in all this? They answer this inquiry by saying:

“ In the United States, in 1992, the Department of Commerce ‘s Bureau of Economic Analysis ( BEA ) began developing a set of environmental histories called the Integrated Economic and Environmental Satellite Accountsaˆ¦.However, from financial twelvemonth 1995 through financial twelvemonth 2002, congressional appropriations commissions directed BEA non to prosecute this enterprise ”

The United States attempted to make a nation-wide database of information but failed. This provides U.S. companies with unequal information about environmental impacts of their determinations, doing it difficult for concern to implement green accounting and the ternary bottom line. For illustration, the United States lacks dependable information on fish stocks and the extent to which certain fish stocks are being depleted ( GAO, 2007 ) If the directors of these fishing organisations had better information they could place appropriate crop bounds ( GAO, 2007 ) .

John Flower negotiations about the GRI guidelines and that there are some standard revelations that should be required in respects to the environment. These criterions are non required by jurisprudence and are released as portion of an independent nongovernmental organisation. In those criterions, environmental public presentation should be disclosed on 30 public presentation indexs including “ entire direct and indirect nursery gas emanations by weight ” ( Flower, 2010 ) . In a current illustration, Apple has been criticized for its labour and environmental patterns. However, since 2006, Apple has released their Environmental Footprint Report, which examines their environmental impact of every installation, merchandise and service it offers. This study states “ Apple has reported our environmental impact comprehensively by measuring the full life-cycle nursery gas ( GHG ) emanations associated with every merchandise and service we offer ” ( Apple, 2012 ) . In the study, they besides mention that they follow GRI guidelines. This indicant shows the continued acceptance and relevancy of accounting and the environment. While policy shapers have n’t released coverage demands like these, big multi-national companies, like Apple, have begun to follow these sustainable coverage patterns.

In decision, accounting dramas a critical function in the houses ‘ sustainability scheme. Our ethical analysis supported the importance of accounting in the environment and while U.S. policy shapers are hesitating to follow strong environmental accounting policies, organisations are get downing to implement stronger environmental policies. The GAO study references:

“ In 1999 and once more in 2005, two independent National Academy of Sciences ( NAS ) panelsaˆ¦.found that developing a set of comprehensive environmental histories should be a high precedence for the state. ”[ 1 ]

Most significantly, the United States should be a leader in sustainable accounting. The GAO survey continues to discourse schemes for developing the United States environmental accounting with things such as understanding other states experiences with green accounting, developing an economic instance for environmental accounting and placing policymakers and environmental experts who can assist advance this field ( GAO, 2007 ) . A more widespread environmental accounting system can supply houses with the tools they need to do determinations that improve the sustainability of our planet.


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