Climate Change Accounting, Reporting and Accountability: Responses by Governments, Not-for-Profit Organisations and Charities

Submissions open September 2024


Climate change now constitutes the greatest threat to humankind. The catastrophic impacts of climate change on lives, livelihoods, and ecosystems are well documented in the extant literature (Nyberg and Wright, 2022; Mall et al., 2019; Munang et al., 2013). The Paris Agreement of 2015, which was adopted within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), urges countries to seek possible measures that could be implemented to achieve the goal of limiting the rise in average global temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Such measures are of paramount importance in protecting lives and livelihoods from the adverse impacts of climate change in the ensuing decades. As one aspect of achieving this goal, the Paris Agreement urges countries to carefully consider their public expenditure policies and budgetary decision making. The public sector’s responses to climate change have often proved to be inadequate at the global level, although they have taken various forms, such as public sector subsidies and public-private partnerships (International Financial Corporation, 2017). Concerns have been raised about this matter and it has been suggested that regulators and the public sector organisations should play a more active role in promoting climate investment by creating a more conducive environment for wider partnerships (Buso and Stenger, 2018; Haque and Irvine, 2018). These concerns have escalated further, following the pandemic, as the limited capacities of and commitment from governments to handle crises and continue delivering public services have become increasingly evident. In addition, studies have demonstrated that the long-term adverse consequences of the pandemic are likely to continue in the foreseeable future, thus limiting governments’ flexibility in terms of allocating and managing public expenditures in areas of social significance such as climate change (Grossi et al., 2020; Leoni et al., 2021; Rinaldi, 2022; Jong and Ho, 2021). The burden of increasing government debts and deficits caused by efforts to mitigate the pandemic has been highlighted in various reports published by international organisations such as the World Bank and the IMF (OECD, 2022; Stewart et al., 2021).  The extent to which governments, particularly those in the developing world, will be able to meet the previously agreed Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) has therefore been questioned (Wyns and van Daalen, 2021).

Despite the proliferation of research on sustainability accounting and accountability, only recently have accounting researchers started to focus on issues relating to climate reporting, investment and accountability in greater depth in the public sector (Baker et al., 2022; Nyberg and Wright, 2022; Liu et al., 2017; Bryan, 2022). This is perhaps unsurprising, given that the importance of paying attention to climate change within public management research has only just begun to be recognised. For instance, Nyberg and Wright (2022, pp. 715-716) observe that “… between 1970 and 2006, only nine of over 31,000 articles published in the top 30 business and management journals included “global warming” or “climate change” in the title, abstract or key words, with not a single climate-related article in the four influential Academy of Management journals”. However, few accounting scholars have highlighted the role of public budgeting in addressing climate-related challenges and the fact that this requires significant financial resources (Gilmore and St. Clair, 2018; Irawan et al., 2012). Recently, accounting scholars have also raised concerns regarding the need to promote cross-disciplinary research in public accounting in order “... to respond to ‘grand challenges’ and ‘wicked problems’ such as climate change, socio-political uncertainty, poverty alleviation and global health improvement” (Leoni et al., 2021, p. 1307). Along with academics, professional bodies such as the Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) program have also taken proactive steps to embed climate change-related issues within their Public Financial Management (PFM) assessment and develop a Climate Responsive Public Financial Management Framework (PEFA, 2020). This framework is designed to assess the extent to which a country’s public financial management system supports the achievement of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, as set out in its NDCs. Reporting on climate change has been central to the International Public Sector Accounting Standard Board’s (IPSASB) ongoing project on developing public sector-specific sustainability reporting standards (IPSASB, 2022). In its December 2022 meeting, the board identified ‘climate-related disclosures’ as a research topic that should be prioritised and published a project brief on climate-related disclosures.

So far, there is limited work discussing the incorporation of climate challenges into central government policies (Bachner et al., 2019; Nicholson et al., 2016). Even less is known about the way in which regional and local government authorities can align their priorities for climate change investment with their budgeting processes (Cohen, 2012; Musah-Surugu et al., 2018). For instance, a recent research report showed that the climate change policies and strategies enacted at the central government level in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka have remained ineffective in terms of fulfilling public expectations regarding climate change action at local levels (Upadhaya et al., 2020). Public sector organisations, charities and other civil society institutions can play an important role in promoting climate resilience and sustainable development. However, despite a growing interest in exploring how the public sector can contribute to climate change initiatives, the existing literature is yet to conceptualise and extend our understanding of climate accounting, reporting and accountability in the public sector. Thus, addressing these gaps in the extant accounting literature has provided the motivation for launching this JPBAFM special issue. The guest editors would like to invite high quality research papers that provide evidence-based accounts of climate change mitigation and adaptation that will help to extend our understanding of climate accounting, reporting and accountability by central, regional, or local governments, charities and not-for-profit organisations.  We encourage authors to consider diverse theoretical, methodological and contextual settings in addressing critical issues in climate accounting, reporting and accountability.

List of topic areas

Topics of potential interest to the special issue include, but are not limited to:

  • Designing, implementing, and monitoring public sector climate accounting, climate reporting, auditing, and performance measurement; 

  • Performance evaluation and monitoring of climate change-related budgets and investment; 

  • The interplay between public accountability, social accountability and climate accountability; 

  • Aligning NDCs with government climate change-related budgeting and investment plans and policies; 

  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation through public financial management; 

  • Mainstreaming climate change in different phases of public investment management, planning and budgeting; 

  • The role of public investment management in improving climate resilience and achieving low carbon growth; 

  • Responding to climate change through national budget processes, budget planning, public investment management, procurement practices, and fiscal policies; 

  • The impact of inclusion/exclusion of citizens in formulating climate-related plans and budgeting; 

  • Enabling co-production in climate change mitigation and adaptation; 

  • Intergovernmental fiscal transfers (conditional or performance grants) to finance and incentivise climate actions; 

  • Integrating central government climate change policies effectively at the state (e.g., regional, provincial, municipal) and local (e.g., city) level; 

  • Developing legal, regulatory, and institutional frameworks for climate change mitigation and adaptation at different government levels; 

  • Climate reporting and climate-related disclosures within the IPSASB’s public sector sustainability reporting 

  • The significance of a sovereign reporting framework for the disclosure of climate and environmental related risks and opportunities 

  • The scope of private sector investment and the promotion of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and hybridity in addressing climate change; 

  • The longer-term effects of the COVID-19 epidemic on PFM and climate change; 

  • Public value generation through polices aimed at adapting to and mitigating climate change; 

  • The role of digitalisation, big data analytics and AI in addressing climate change and sustainability issues.


A workshop on the above research themes will be held at the Essex Business School in June 2024 (date will be announced in due course) at which potential authors can present their work. However, a presentation at this workshop will not be a prerequisite for submission to the special issue. Authors interested in presenting at the workshop must submit an extended abstract by emailing Prof. Pawan Adhikari at: [email protected] by 31 May 2024.

Submissions Information

The final deadline for paper submission is 31 December 2024.

Manuscripts must be written in English and submitted via ScholarOne Manuscripts, the submission site for JPBAFM. Author guidelines must be strictly followed. 

Submit via ScholarOne

Author Guidelines

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to “Please select the issue you are submitting to”.  

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.


For any questions and further details, please contact the guest editors at:

Pawan Adhikari - [email protected]
Bedanand Upadhaya - [email protected]
Chaminda Wijethilake - [email protected]
Zlatinka Blaber - [email protected]
Wei Qian - [email protected]


Bachner, G., Bednar-Friedl, B. and Knittel, N. (2019), “How Does Climate Change Adaptation Affect Public Budgets? Development of an Assessment Framework and a Demonstration for Austria”, Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Vol 24 No.7, pp. 1325–41.

Baker, M., Gray, R. and Schaltegger, S. (2023), “Debating accounting and sustainability: from incompatibility to rapprochement in the pursuit of corporate sustainability”, Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 36 No. 2, pp.591-619. 

Bryan, K. (2022), “Sustainability reporting at EU level: leading by example?” Journal of Pubic Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 488-497. 

Buso, M. and Stenger, A. (2018), “Public-Private Partnerships as a Policy Response to Climate Change”, Energy Policy, Vol. 119, August, pp. 487–94. 

Cohen, T. (2012), “Can Participatory Emissions Budgeting Help Local Authorities to Tackle Climate Change?”, Environmental Development Vol. 2, April, pp. 18–35. 

Gilmore, E. A. and St. Clair, T. (2018). “Budgeting for Climate Change: Obstacles and Opportunities at the US State Level.” Climate Policy, Vol. 18 No. 6, pp. 729–41. 

Grossi, G., Ho, A.T. and Joyce, P.G. (2020), “Budgetary responses to a global pandemic: international experiences and lessons for a sustainable future”, Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Vol. 32 No. 5, pp.737-744. 

Haque, S. and Irvine, H. (2018), “The climate change-related disclosures and accountability practices of NGOs; Evidence from Australia”, Financial Accountability & Management, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 45-63. 

International Financial Corporation. (2017), Climate Investment Opportunities in South Asia: An IFC Analysis, IFC, Washington, DC.  

International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB). (2022), Advancing Public Sector Sustainability Reporting, Consultation Paper, IFAC.

Irawan, S., Heikens, A. and Petrini, K. (2012), National Climate Funds: Learning from the Experience of Asia Pacific Countries, UNDP Discussion Paper, United Nations Development Programme, New York. 

Jong, M. and Ho, A. (2021), “Emerging fiscal health and governacne concerns resulting from COVID-19 challenges”, Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 1-11. 

Leoni, G., Lai, A., Stacchezzini, R., Steccolini, I., Brammer, S., Linnenluecke, M. and Demirag, I. (2021), “Accounting, management and accountability in times of crisis: lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic”, Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 34 No. 6, pp.1305-1319. 

Liu, Z., Abhayawansa, S., Jubb, C. and Perera, L. (2017), “Regulatort impact on voluntary climate change-related reporting by Australian government-owned corporations”, Financial Accountability & Management, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 264-283. 

Mall, R. K., Srivastava, R.K., Banerjee, T., Mishra, O.P., Bhatt, D. and Sonkar, G. (2019), “Disaster Risk Reduction Including Climate Change Adaptation over South Asia: Challenges and Ways Forward”, International Journal of Disaster Risk Science, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 14–27. 

Munang, R., Thiaw, I., Alverson, K., Mumba, M., Liu, J. and Rivington, M. (2013), “Climate change and Ecosystem-based Adaptation: a new pragmatic approach to buffering climate change impacts”, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 67-71. 

Musah-Surugu, I. J., Ahenkan, A. and Bawole, J.N. (2018), “Local government financing of climate change in Ghana: politics of aid and central government dependency dyndrome”, Journal of Asian and African Studies, Vol. 54 No. 5, pp. 619–37. 

Nicholson, K., Beloe, T. and Hodes, G. (2016), Hard Choices, Integrated Approaches: A Guidance Note on Climate Change Financing Frameworks, UNDP Discussion Paper, United Nations Development Programme, New York. 

Nyberg, D. and Wright, C. (2022), “Climate-proofing management research”, Academy of Management Perspectives, Vol. 36 No. 2, pp.713-728. 

OECD. (2022), OECD sovereign borrowing outlook 2022, OECD, Paris.  

Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA). (2020), Climate Responsive Public Financial Management (CRPFM), PEFA, The World Bank Group. 

Rinaldi, L. (2022), “Accounting and the COVID-19 pandemic two years on: insights, gaps, and an agenda for future research” Accounting Forum (in press) 

Stewart, F., Power, S., Flugge, M., Wadhwa, B., Kumar, M., Swann, S. and Nassiry, D. (2021), Sovereign Climate and Nature Reporting: Proposal for a Risks and Opportunities Framework, The World Bank Group. 

Upadhaya, B., Wijethilake, C., Adhikari, P., Jayasinghe, K. and Arun, T. (2021), Integrating Climate Change and Livelihood within Public Investment Policies: A Cross-country Assessment in South Asia (India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka), Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability, The World Bank Group. 

Wyns, A. and van Daalen, K. R. (2021), “From pandemic to Paris: the inclusion of COVID-19 response in national climate commitments”, The Lancet Planetary Health, Vol. 5 No.5. pp. e256-e258.