There is no definitive definition of environmental accounting. When the topic first became popular 20 years ago, environmental accounting referred to the measurement and communication of environment-related issues in the annual report and the calculation of environment-related costs and benefits in managerial decision-making. One of the central issues that has faced accountants is how to measure the true costs and benefits provided by the natural environment without which a business cannot thrive and be sustainable. The course will begin by looking at how accountants have addressed this problem. It will then follow this thread into some of the literature that discusses natural capitalism, the valuation of natural resources and on to environmental economics. The course will also look at some of the responses by accounting bodies such as the CICA to climate change. The topics will be presented using a variety of readings, classroom discussion, and guest speakers.
A basic knowledge of accounting and economics would be helpful but there are no formal prerequisites.