The aim of this paper is to provide a comparative perspective on the output of environmental accounting systems. For the purpose of the analysis, the methodological focus was set on monetary elements included in the annual financial and sustainability reports. Following the tradition of accounting literature, two accounting cultures were selected for their paradigmatic opposition: the British and the French financial reporting systems. Using a sample of 100 companies, half extracted from each country, the environmental elements expressed in monetary terms were subsequently content-analyzed, following a relevant regulatory benchmark: the UK generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), the French chart of accounts, the European recommendations on account preparation and corporate reporting, and the International financial reporting standards (IFRS). We also provide empirical evidence for a phenomenon called “reporting inertia”, which refers to a certain approach to corporate environmental reporting, where companies are using prefabricated phrases and paragraphs to report almost the same monetary elements year after year, for long periods of time. Finally, we discuss the mixed results in the distribution of accounting elements between the two accounting cultures. This investigation is novel in that there is no previous study offering a very detailed classification and analysis of several environmental accounting elements, in a European context.
Key words: Environmental accounting, European companies, international financial reporting standards (IFRS), comparative studies.
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