Detecting carbon emissions disclosure management
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This study develops a proxy to capture firms’ quantitative carbon Emission Disclosure Management (EDM). Whereas many papers empirically study financial disclosures management in terms of earnings management, the literature is silent on firms’ quantitative non-financial disclosures management. We fill this gap through empirically evaluating whether firms manage numerical carbon emission disclosure in their favor after a reputation shock led by irresponsibility controversies. We collect corporate carbon emission data from Corporate Reports (CR) manually and measure the EDM as the gap between the carbon numbers disclosed in the CR and those reported to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) (Depoers et al., 2016). Our results support the hypothesis that firms engage in EDM after a reputation shock. Further analyses reveal that audits of sustainability reports are not able to prevent the problem of EDM when firms obtain only limited assurance. Our results imply that: audit professionals should revise their practice of auditing carbon emissions; investors and other stakeholders should treat carbon disclosure with caution; and regulators should establish effective control mechanisms for biased carbon disclosure.