Carbon Trading Reporting: The Case of Spanish Companies

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Abstract: Policy makers, scientists, industry leaders, and academicians all have debated how to restrain global warming and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Three main methods are used: command and control laws and regulations, carbon taxes, and cap and trade schemes. Recognizing the consequences of global warming, all Scandinavian countries introduced a carbon emissions tax in the 1990s. They also ratified the Kyoto Protocol that ran from 2005 through 2012. The European Union (EU) instituted a carbon trading scheme (Emissions Trading System (ETS)) in February 2005 when Kyoto became operative. The three Scandinavian EU members had two methods in place during the 2005-08 period to encourage GHG reduction: taxing and trading. Norway, not in the EU, used just taxes. The other EU members, including Spain, applied just the carbon trading ETS scheme to encourage compliance with the Kyoto Protocol. The fundamental issue addressed is this one: Did publicly held firms headquartered in Spain adequately report participation in the EU carbon emissions trading mechanism? Data to answer this question were obtained from the 2011 and 2012 annual reports for domestic Spanish public companies that received tradable emissions permits. In addition to assessing investor-owned firms' disclosure posture, the specific method of reporting about carbon emissions permits, whether companies used, banked, or sold the permits granted by the government, also is reviewed. This empirical research effort reports on a complete survey of all available data for the two financial reporting periods that concluded the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol.

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