Previous financial disclosure literature suggests that private and public firms exhibit different characteristics in their financial reporting behavior. And yet literature on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions disclosure has so far paid little attention to private firms, despite the fact that this type of firm is responsible for significant GHG emissions. This study analyzes the GHG disclosure behavior of German private firms, considering not only the typical theoretical foundations in environmental disclosure literature – approaches from sociopolitical theories – but also arguments from disclosure theory. The results suggest that if a private firm’s decision to disclose GHG emissions information is divided into two sequential steps – the first step being to decide whether or not to disclose such information, and the second being to decide on the extent of the information to be disclosed – these two steps can be assigned to two different disclosure incentives: the initial disclosure decision seems to be triggered by sociopolitical issues, while the decision on the extent of disclosure is driven by information demands of capital providers.

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