Accounting for Climate Success

NEW YORK - PRNewswire – According to a new position paper from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the global body for professional accountants, global economic instability could lead to a decline in direct environmental investments and reduce the rigour of future climate change legislation.

The report includes recommendations for governments, policy makers and businesses ahead of December’s Conference of the Parties (COP15) U.N. Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“The dual challenges of climate and the economy have led to a unique opportunity to rebuild the global markets with systems sympathetic to climate change,” said Helen Brand, chief executive, ACCA. “The trillion dollar bailouts of the banking sector prove that governments and businesses around the world can work together quickly to avert disaster.”

ACCA’s report recommends that governments should respond to the economic conditions by implementing measures that will encourage environmental investments and a more sustainable approach from business.

“Businesses have a massive role to play here in how they communicate their commitment to a low carbon economy.”  “ACCA champions the extension of corporate reporting to include the social and environmental aspects of a business and has launched awards for sustainability reporting in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Canada and the U.S,” Brand said.

The eight recommendations include:

  1. A new agreement must consist of a shared vision and contain a clear regulatory framework that is valid, ideally until 2030 or 2050.

  2. Business has a key role to play in tackling climate change; governments and supranational bodies should take steps to support them by developing a portfolio of fiscal instruments designed to internalise sustainability impacts in international trade treaties and reviewing the incentives provided by SME corporate taxation systems to increase the propensity of the SME sector to invest in cleaner technology.

  3. The level of effort and commitment from developing countries will need to reflect their national circumstances, but they too will need to take action with appropriate support from developed countries, to put themselves on track to a low carbon economy. Also, for Kyoto’s successor to succeed, both the US and China have to sign up to it.

  4. The European Union Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) must only be linked with systems that are robust, in order to avoid undermining the integrity of the scheme.

  5. A global carbon market must be completely measurable and verifiable, with clear requirements for monitoring and reporting as per the Bali Roadmap, including the production of regular emissions inventories by both developed and developing countries. An effective compliance system must be developed to enable transparent and verifiable comparison of the climate change efforts of the different countries.

  6. Governments should continue to urge organisations of all sizes to produce appropriately structured carbon reports. Supranational bodies should recommend public carbon reporting, based on the GRI guidelines.

  7. As part of their wider Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme, environmental regulators should work with international accounting standard setters to develop a universally applicable climate change reporting standard for organisations of all sizes.

  8. Governments should review the incentives provided by SME corporate taxation systems to increase the propensity of the SME sector to invest in cleaner technology and should produce guidance to help SMEs measure their key environmental and social impacts.

“ACCA is concerned that without a coordinated strategy to tackle the financial crisis with sustainable efforts, the possibility still exists that stimulus and recovery packages may lock us into the root causes of climate change,” Brand said. “If we follow the model of the banking bailout, we can achieve a sustainable, low-carbon, climate resilient future.”

For additional information on ACCA’s report, please click here

About ACCA

ACCA is the global body for professional accountants with 131,500 members and 362,000 students, providing services through a network of 80 offices and centers around the world, including the US office in New York City.

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