Undoubtedly, climate change is one of the greatest problems facing today’s world. Despite this, traditional research has ignored the market response to, and accountability for, climate change reporting in developing countries. Hence, this study critically examines climate change reporting practices in the most affected countries in the world, with specific reference to Bangladesh. In the study, 32 semi-structured interviews and 71 annual reports are evaluated. Using legitimacy theory, the study contributes to building an understanding of companies’ attitude toward stakeholder accountability regarding climate change. The study finds that Bangladeshi companies are reporting climate change information on an average of 2.23 %. More specifically, the study demonstrates that large companies are reporting on more climate change issues than others because of their legitimized positions in the market. Again, a lack of regulation and a culture of low social accountability among the companies contribute to a very low level of disclosure on climate change. Surprisingly, multinationals are not providing satisfactory disclosure. The study has policy implications in developing countries for both local policy makers (the government) and international policy makers (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the European Union, the World Bank, the UN Environment Programme, the International Energy Agency and the World Economic Forum) as to how to engage local companies so that they become more socially accountable to climate change reporting.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Abbott, W. F., & Monsen, R. J. (1979). On the measurement of corporate social responsibility: Self-reported disclosures as a measurement of corporate social involvement. Academy of Management Journal, 22(3), 501–515.
Adams, C. A., Hill, W. Y., & Roberts, C. B. (1998). Corporate Social Reporting Practices in Western Europe: Legitimating Corporate Behaviour. British Accounting Review, 30(1), 1–21.
Adams, C. A., & Kuasirikun, N. (2000). A comparative analysis of corporate reporting on ethical issues by UK and German chemical and pharmaceutical companies. European Accounting Review, 9(1), 53–79.
Al Mamun, M. A., & Al Pavel, M. A. (2014). Climate change adaptation strategies through indigenous knowledge system: Aspect on agro-crop production in the flood prone areas of Bangladesh. Asian Journal of Agriculture and Rural Development, 4(1), 42–58.
Alexander, G. J., & Buchholz, R. A. (1978). Corporate social responsibility and stock market performance. Academy of Management Journal, 21(3), 479–486.
Alló, M., & Loureiro, M. L. (2014). The role of social norms on preferences towards climate change policies: A meta-analysis. Energy Policy, 73, 563–574.
Al-Tuwaijri, S. A., Christensen, T. E., & Hughes, K. E, I. I. (2004). The relations among environmental disclosure, environmental performance, and economic performance: A simultaneous equations approach. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 29(5–6), 447–471.
Azzone, G., & Bertele, U. (1994). Exploiting green strategies for competitive advantage. Long Range Planning, 27(6), 69–81.
Azzone, G., Manzini, R., & Noci, G. (1996a). Evolutionary trends in environmental reporting. Business Strategy and the Environment, 5(4), 219–230.
Azzone, G., Noci, G., Manzini, R., Welford, R., & Young, C. W. (1996b). Defining environmental performance indicators: An integrated framework. Business Strategy and the Environment, 5, 69–80.
BBC. (2006). Climate fears for Bangladesh’s future. 14 September. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5344002.stm. Accessed 12 June 2014
BBC. (2010). Bangladesh—On the climate change frontline. http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/specials/1436_wag_insecurity/page3.shtml. Accessed 12 June 2014
Belkaoui, A., & Karpik, P. G. (1989). Determinants of the corporate decision to disclose social information. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 2(1), 36–51.
Bendell, J., & Murphy, D. (2002). Towards Civil Regulation: NGOs and the Politics of Corporate Environmentalism. In P. Utting (Ed.), The greening of business in developing countries (pp. 245–267). London: Zed Books.
Bowman, E. H., & Haire, M. (1976). Social impact disclosure and corporate annual reports. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 1(1), 11–21.
Brockhoff, K. (1979). A note on external social reporting by German companies: A survey of 1973 company reports. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 4(1–2), 77–85.
Canadell, J. G., Quéré, C. L., Raupach, M. R., Field, C. B., Buitenhuis, E. T., Ciais, P., et al. (2007). Contributions to accelerating atmospheric CO2 growth from economic activity, carbon intensity, and efficiency of natural sinks. PNAS, 104(47), 18866–18870.
Carlton, S. J., & Jacobson, S. K. (2013). Climate change and coastal environmental risk perceptions in Florida. Journal of Environmental Management, 130, 32–39.
Chen, K. H., & Metcalf, R. W. (1980). the relationship between pollution control record and financial indicators revisited. The Accounting Review, 55(1), 168–177.
Cho, C. H., & Patten, D. M. (2007). The role of environmental disclosures as tools of legitimacy: A research note. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 32(7–8), 639–647.
Clarke, J., & Gibson-Sweet, M. (1999). The use of corporate social disclosures in the management of reputation and legitimacy: A cross sectoral analysis of UK top 100 companies. Business Ethics: A European Review, 8(1), 5–13.
Clarkson, P. M., Li, Y., Richardson, G. D., & Vasvari, F. P. (2008). Revisiting the relation between environmental performance and environmental disclosure: An empirical analysis. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 33(3), 303–327.
Cochran, P. L., & Wood, R. A. (1984). Corporate social responsibility and financial performance. The Academy of Management Journal, 27(1), 42–56.
Corporate Governance (CG) Ordinance. (2012). Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission Order No. SEC/CMRRCD/2006-158/134/Admin/44, dated 07 August 2012. http://www.sec.gov.bd/. Accessed 17 Sept 2014
Cowen, S. S., Ferreri, L. B., & Parker, L. D. (1987). The impact of corporate characteristics on social responsibility disclosure: A typology and frequency-based analysis. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 12(2), 111–122.
Dechant, K., & Altman, B. (1994). Environmental leadership: From compliance to competitive advantage. Academy of Management Executive, 8(3), 7–28.
Deegan, C., & Gordon, B. (1996). a study of the environmental disclosure policies of Australian corporations. Accounting and Business Research, 26(3), 187–199.
Deegan, C., & Rankin, M. (1996). Do Australian companies report environmental news objectively?—An analysis of environmental disclosures by companies prosecuted successfully by the Environmental Protection Authority. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 9(2), 50–67.
Deegan, C., & Rankin, M. (1999). The environmental reporting expectations gap: Australian evidence. The British Accounting Review, 31, 313–346.
Di Norcia, V., Cotton, B., & Dodge, J. (1993). Environmental performance and competitive advantage in Canada’s paper industry. Business Strategy and the Environment, 2(4), 1–9.
Dierkes, M. (1979). Corporate social reporting in Germany: Conceptual developments and practical experience. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 4(1–2), 87–107.
DiMaggio, P. J., & Powell, W. W. (1991). Introduction. In W. W. Powell & P. J. DiMaggio (Eds.), The new institutionalism in organization analysis (pp. 1–38). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Dowling, J. B., & Pfeffer, J. (1975). Organizational legitimacy: Social values and organizational behavior. Pacific Sociological Review, 18(1), 122–136.
Epstein, M., Flamholtz, E., & McDonough, J. J. (1976). Corporate social accounting in the United States of America: State of the art and future prospects. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 1(1), 23–42.
Freedman, M., & Jaggi, B. (1988). An analysis of the association between pollution disclosure and economic performance. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 1(2), 43–58.
Fry, F., & Hock, R. J. (1976). Who claims corporate responsibility? The biggest and the worst. Business and Society Review/Innovation, 18, 62–65.
Gogoi, E., & Kakakhel, K. (2014). Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), climate and development outlook: Bangladesh special edition. http://cdkn.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/BANGLADESH_country-newsletter_FINAL2_WEB.pdf. Accessed 8 May 2014
Gray, S. J., Radebaugh, L. H., & Roberts, C. B. (1990). International perceptions of cost constraints on voluntary information disclosures: A comparative study of U.K. and U.S. multinationals. Journal of International Business Studies, 21(4), 597–622.
Hughes, S. B., Anderson, A., & Golden, S. (2001). Corporate environmental disclosures: Are they useful in determining environmental performance? Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, 20(3), 217–240.
Ingram, R., & Frazier, K. B. (1980). Environmental performance and corporate disclosure. Journal of Accounting Research, 18(2), 614–622.
Ingram, R., & Frazier, K. B. (1983). Narrative disclosures in annual reports. Journal of Business Research, 11, 49–60.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (2007a). Climate change 2007: The physical science basis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (2007b). Climate change 2007: Mitigation of climate change.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (2013). Summary for policymakers. In T. F. Stocker, D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S. K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex, & P. M. Midgley(Eds.), Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC.
Islam, R., & Walkerden, G. (2014). How bonding and bridging networks contribute to disaster resilience and recovery on the Bangladeshi coast. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 10(Part A), 281–291.
Ite, U. E. (2004). Multinationals and corporate social responsibility in developing countries: A case study of Nigeria. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 11, 1–11.
Jamali, D., & Neville, B. (2011). Convergence versus divergence of CSR in developing countries: An embedded multi-layered institutional lens. Journal of Business Ethics, 102, 599–621.
Jamali, D., Zanhour, M., & Keshishian, T. (2009). Peculiar strengths and relational attributes of SMEs in the context of CSR. Journal of Business Ethics, 87(3), 355–367.
Judge, G. G., Griffiths, W. E., Carter, H. R., Lutkepohl, H., & Lee, T. C. (1985). The theory and practice of econometrics (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.
Khan, I., Alam, F., & Alam, Q. (2013). The global climate change and its effect on power generation in Bangladesh. Energy Policy, 61, 1460–1470.
Kintisch, E. (2009). Projections of climate change go from bad to worse, scientists report. Science, 323, 1546–1547.
Kolk, A., & Lenfant, F. (2010). MNC reporting on CSR and conflict in Central Africa. Journal of Business Ethics, 93(2), 241–255.
Kostova, T., & Roth, K. (2002). Adoption of an organizational practice by subsidiaries of multinational corporations: institutional and relational effects. Academy of Management Journal, 45(1), 215–233.
Kreft, S., & Eckstein, D. (2013). Global Climate Risk Index 2014: Who suffers most from extreme weather events? Weather-related loss events in 2012 and 1993 to 2012. http://germanwatch.org/en/download/8551.pdf. Accessed 20 Aug 2014
Luo, I., & Tang, Q. (2014). Does voluntary carbon disclosure reflect underlying carbon performance? Journal of Contemporary Accounting & Economics, 10, 191–205.
Maplecroft. (2014). Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2014. https://maplecroft.com/portfolio/new-analysis/2013/10/30/31-global-economic-output-forecast-face-high-or-extreme-climate-change-risks-2025-maplecroft-risk-atlas/. Accessed 2 Sept 2014
McGuire, J. B., Sundgren, A., & Schneeweis, T. (1988). Corporate social responsibility and firm financial performance. Academy of Management Journal, 31(4), 854–872.
Meng, X. H., Zeng, S. X., Shib, J. J., Qi, G. Y., & Zhang, Z. B. (2014). The relationship between corporate environmental performance and environmental disclosure: An empirical study in China. Journal of Environmental Management, 145, 357–367.
Meyer, J. W., & Rowan, B. (1977). Institutionalized organizations: Formal structure as myth and ceremony. American Journal of Sociology, 83, 340–363.
Muchlinksi, P. (1999). A brief history of business regulation. In S. Piccottio & R. Mayne (Eds.), Regulating international business: Beyond liberalization (pp. 47–60). Basingstoke: MacMillan.
Neu, D., Warsame, H., & Pedwell, K. (1998). Managing public impressions: Environmental disclosures in annual reports. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 23(3), 265–282.
Newell, P. (2008). Civil society, corporate accountability and the politics of climate change. Global Environmental Politics, 8(3), 122–153.
Nurunnabi, M. (2014). ‘Does accounting regulation matter?’ An experience of international financial reporting standards implementation in an emerging country. Research in Accounting Regulation, 26(2), 230–238.
Owen, D. L., Swift, T., Humphrey, C., & Bowerman, M. (2000). The new social audits: Accountability, managerial capture or the agenda of social champions? European Accounting Review, 9(1), 81–99.
Papagiannakis, G., & Lioukas, S. (2012). Values, attitudes and perceptions of managers as predictors of corporate environmental responsiveness. Journal of Environmental Management, 100, 41–51.
Parket, I. R., & Eilbrit, H. (1975). The practice of business social responsibility: The underlying factors. Business Horizons, 18(4), 5–10.
Patten, D. M. (1991). Exposure, legitimacy, and social disclosure. Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, 10, 297–308.
Patten, D. M. (2002). The relation between environmental performance and environmental disclosure: a research note. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 27(8), 763–773.
Pellizzoni, L. (2004). Responsibility and environmental governance. Environmental Politics, 13(3), 541–565.
Preston, L. E. (1978). Analyzing corporate social performance: Methods and results. Journal of Contemporary Business, 7(1), 135–150.
Qi, G. Y., Zeng, S. X., Shi, J. J., Meng, X. H., Lin, H., & Yang, Q. X. (2014). Revisiting the relationship between environmental and financial performance in Chinese industry. Journal of Environmental Management, 145, 349–356.
Rankin, M., Windsor, C., & Wahyuni, D. (2011). An investigation of voluntary corporate greenhouse gas emissions reporting in a market governance system: Australian evidence. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 24(8), 1037–1070.
Roberts, C. B. (1991). Environmental disclosures: A note on reporting practices in mainland Europe. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 4, 62–71.
Roberts, P. (1992a). Business and the environment: An initial review of the recent literature. Business Strategy and the Environment, 1(2), 41–50.
Roberts, R. W. (1992b). Determinants of corporate social responsibility disclosure. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 17(6), 595–612.
Robertson, D. C., & Nicholson, N. (1996). Expressions of corporate social responsibility in U.K. Firms. Journal of Business Ethics, 15, 1095–1106.
Rockness, J. W. (1985). An assessment of the relationship between US corporate environmental performance and disclosure. Journal of Business Finance and Accounting, 12(3), 339–355.
Schmid, R. E. (2009). Climate warming gases rising faster than expected. The Guardian. 15 February. www.guardian.co.uk. Accessed 1 Oct 2014
Schreuder, H. (1979). Corporate social reporting in the Federal Republic of Germany: An overview. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 4(1/2), 109–122.
Sovacool, B. K., D’Agostino, A. L., Meenawat, H., & Rawlani, A. (2012). Expert views of climate change adaptation in least developed Asia. Journal of Environmental Management, 97, 78–88.
Stanwick, S. D., & Stanwick, P. A. (1998a). The relationship between corporate social performance, and organizational size, financial performance, and environmental performance: An empirical examination. Journal of Business Ethics, 17, 195–204.
Stanwick, S. D., & Stanwick, P. A. (1998b). Corporate social responsiveness: An empirical examination using the Environmental Disclosure Index. International Journal of Commerce and Management, 8(3/4), 26–40.
Suchman, M. C. (1995). Managing legitimacy: Strategic and institutional approaches. Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 571–610.
Surmeli, S., & White, S. (2009). Climate change and public company disclosure. Power & Energy Solution. May, 2009. http://www.pes.eu.com/assets/misc/comment-legalpdf-04.pdf. Accessed 17 Dec 2014
The Guardian. (2012). We have seen the enemy: Bangladesh’s war against climate change. 9 May. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/may/09/bangladesh-war-against-climate-change. Accessed 14 May 2014
The Guardian. (2013). Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions. 20 May. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/20/90-companies-man-made-global-warming-emissions-climate-change. Accessed 21 Dec 2014
The Independent. (2013). Whatever happened to climate change? http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/whatever-happened-to-climate-change-8831686.html. Accessed 7 September 2014
Tien, C. K. (2013). The public perception of climate change in Taiwan and its paradigm shift. Energy Policy, 61, 1252–1260.
Tilt, C. A. (1994). The influence of external pressure groups on corporate social disclosure: Some empirical evidence. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 7(4), 47–72.
Trotman, K., & Bradley, G. (1981). Associations between social responsibility disclosure and characteristics of companies. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 6(4), 355–362.
Ullmann, A. A. (1979). Corporate social reporting: Political interests and conflicts in Germany. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 4(1–2), 123–133.
Ullmann, A. A. (1985). Data in search of a theory: A critical examination of the relationships among Social performance, social disclosure, and economic performance of U.S. Firms. Academy of Management Review, 10(3), 540–557.
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. (UNFCCC) (2014). UN Climate Change Newsroom. Available at: http://newsroom.unfccc.int/. Accessed 8 Sept 2014.
Vance, S. C. (1975). Are socially responsible corporations good investment risks? Management Review, 64(8), 19–24.
Verrecchia, R. (1983). Discretionary disclosure. Journal of Accounting and Economics, 5, 179–194.
Wakabayashi, M. (2013). Voluntary business activities to mitigate climate change: Case studies in Japan. Energy Policy, 63, 1086–1090.
Welford, R. (1995). Environmental strategy and sustainable development. London: Routledge.
Welford, R., & Gouldson, A. (1993). Environmental management and business strategy. London: Pitman.
Wiseman, J. (1982). An evaluation of environmental disclosure made in annual reports. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 7(1), 53–63.
World Bank. (2011). Climate risk and adaptation country profile: Bangladesh. Washington DC, World Bank. http://sdwebx.worldbank.org/climateportalb/doc/GFDRRCountryProfiles/wb_gfdrr_climate_change_country_profile_for_BGD.pdf. Accessed 17 Aug 2014
World Bank. (2014). Databank. http://databank.worldbank.org/data/. Accessed 23 Aug 2014.
Zéghal, D., & Ahmed, S. A. (1990). Comparison of social responsibility information disclosure media used by Canadian firms. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 3(1), 38–53.
The author is grateful to the Editor in Chief, Professor Luc Hens, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions and feedback. The author also acknowledges 32 interviewees who participated in this study.
Climate change reporting disclosure items (n = 55 items).
Policy and Strategy
Policy statement on operations and climate change
Public position on climate change science
Public position on commitment to binding targets
Policy on addressing product impacts
CEO/directors articulate views on climate change and GHG emissions
Individual with specific responsibility for climate change identified or evidence of how responsibility for climate change is delegated
Existence of a board committee with specific responsibility/remit for climate change, or evidence that the board is engaged in these issues
Remuneration at executive and board level is linked to climate change performance/issues
Information about how climate change trends are linked into future company strategy in some way
Overview/statement of company management system (information and control systems) for climate change
Identifying financial risk arising from climate change: the financial implications of climate change and related regulation
Mention of climate change risks (other than physical or regulatory) such as litigation and reputational risks
Process and systems described for risk identification cover operations
Process and systems described for risk identification cover products and services
Details of the physical risks (arising from climate change) to which the company is exposed are given
Details are given of how those climate change risks are assessed and managed
The timescales are given over which climate change risks are expected to materialize
The regions or locations that are affected are given
The effects of physical risks (arising from climate change) on the company’s supply chain and customers are explained
Details of the climate change-related regulations, policies or government-sponsored initiatives that affect the company are given
Details are given of how those regulations, policies or initiatives affect the business
Details of the business implications of existing or prospective legislation to reduce GHG emissions are given
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
Total gross GHG emissions in CO2-equivalent metric tons
Report differentiates between Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions and splits these out in reporting of total gross GHG emissions in CO2-equivalent metric tons
Indirect (Scope 3) emissions from sources not owned or controlled by the reporting organization but which are a consequence of the activities of the reporting organization
A measure of GHG intensity by reference to the company’s revenue
Information in 26 split out into Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions
A measure of GHG intensity by reference to non-financial output
Information in 28 split out into Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions
GHG emissions are prepared using one or more standards, national, regional or industry-specific programs
Quantified targets set
Targets set using both absolute AND intensity-based units
Short-term targets set (less than five years)
Long-term targets set (more than five years)
Includes progress against previously set targets
Targets apply to product data
Process-driven targets set
Mitigation and Adaptation
Energy efficiency measures
Purchasing energy from low-carbon sources
Transport and travel changes, increased use and development in low-carbon technologies
Assessment of, and engagement with, supply-chain GHG emissions
Climate change mitigation actions discussed
Climate change adaptation measures discussed
Generation of renewable energy
New business model
Independent assurance of GHG emissions
Significant reference to, or use of, WBCSD-WRI GHG protocol
Use of GRI climate change-specific indicators
Significant reference to, or use of, ISO 14064-1
Making general disclosure of corporate objectives/policies relating to the social responsibility of the company to the various segments of society
Disclosing corporate governance practices
Oversight board on climate change
Report on climate change by oversight Board
See Table 9.
About this article
Cite this article
Nurunnabi, M. Who cares about climate change reporting in developing countries? The market response to, and corporate accountability for, climate change in Bangladesh. Environ Dev Sustain 18, 157–186 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-015-9632-3
- Climate change reporting
- Legitimacy theory