Acknowledging the impact of climate change and the economic, social and business risk it brings, the 13 accounting bodies, representing 2.5 million accountants globally, will now commit to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within their own organisations.
No hard deadline has been set, but each body has committed to reach net zero “as soon as operationally possible”, with a requirement to publish a net-zero emissions pathway within the next 12 months and to report on their progress annually.
The bodies believe accountants can play a significant role in tackling the challenges created by climate change through their unique skill in quantifying risk and providing transparent advice in their work in every sector of the economy.
The 13 bodies include Chartered Accountants ANZ, CPA Australia, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Regnskap Norge, Chartered Accountants Ireland, ICAS, Association of Accounting Technicians, ICAEW, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, Consiglio Nazionale dei Dottori Commercialisti e degli Esperti Contabili, Institut der Wirtschaftsprüfer, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, and the Japanese Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
The accounting bodies are members of the Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S), established by Prince Charles in 2004 with an objective of building resilient business models and a sustainable economy.
CPA Australia chief executive Andrew Hunter believes accountants are perfectly poised to help businesses and organisations deal with climate change.
“The accounting profession occupies a privileged position in the global economy,” said Mr Hunter.
“As trusted advisers, we’re privy to deep business insights about sustainability risks and opportunities. This knowledge creates an obligation to use our skills to protect our environmental heritage.
“CPA Australia is a global organisation in a global profession and we’re proud to be part of the global response to climate change.”
CA ANZ CEO Ainslie van Onselen, said it was imperative for businesses to consider the risks posed by climate change now.
“The pandemic has been a living example of the significant impact that non-financial risks can have on businesses and global economies,” said Ms van Onselen.
“Climate change is a non-financial risk that is no longer an issue on the horizon, it’s here and now.
“CA ANZ is committed to equipping members to meet these new challenges. As customers and investors increasingly consider sustainability in their decision making, the accounting profession is well placed to support a just transition.”
As part of the commitment, both bodies in Australia have pledged to provide training and guidance to their members to support them in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in their own organisations and businesses.
CA ANZ and CPA Australia will also look to provide advice to help governments create the policy and regulatory infrastructure necessary for a transition to a net-zero carbon economy.
Jessica Fries, executive chair of the A4S, said the commitment from the global accounting bodies would help educate and mobilise an “army of accountants” to create a sustainable future.
“The accounting bodies making this commitment are showing leadership in the fight against climate change,” said Ms Fries.
“Accountants who work for the good of their businesses, and serve the public interest, have always been the backbone of stable economies. This commitment brings us closer to building a sustainable world.”