AAT calls on members to put their skills to work in fighting climate change

AAT is joining other leading accounting bodies in calling on accountants to put their skills to work to help businesses address climate change.

14 accounting bodies have published a declaration to put sustainability at the forefront of the profession’s work.

What do accountants offer?

Professional accountants are at work in every sector of the economy and dealing with companies and organisations that will need to implement measures to counter the effects of climate change.

The transition to a net-zero carbon economy will rely on adapting economic policy and associated market mechanisms – both of which involve accountants in a central role.

They also have expertise in advising companies on how to manage risk. And they are bound as professionals to act in the public interest. All of which makes them powerful agents of change.

What is the call to action?

Organisations including AAT, ACCA, CIMA, ICAS, and ICAEW have worked with Prince Charles’ Accounting for Sustainability
(A4S) project to mobilise the accounting profession.

The result is an international call to action that requires accountants to :

  • Integrate climate change risk into organisational strategy, finance, operations, and communications.
  • Support sustainable decision-making.
  • Provide sound advice and services.

The signatory bodies will also need to play their part. So the chief executives who signed the document also pledged their organisations to the following actions.

  • Provide members with the training, support and infrastructure they need to apply their skills to the challenge.
  • Support relevant market-based policy initiatives and incentives, consistent and well-considered regulation, and more useful disclosure.
  • Provide sound advice to help governments to create the policy and regulatory infrastructure necessary for a just transition to a net-zero carbon economy.

 “As influential members across every sector in society, professional accountants are in a unique position to help effect positive action in a collective effort. We have both a responsibility to act in the public interest, and the skills and expertise to help deliver meaningful change,” says Mark Farrar, Chief Executive of AAT.

“We encourage AAT’s 130,000 members worldwide to play their own part in taking action, helping the organisations they work with to respond to climate change with the urgency and scale required.”

Practical steps

Some actions to mitigate climate change will require progress at government or regulatory level. But there are things that can be done now.

AAT  is working to include sustainability in its qualifications with the development of AQ21. We will also be running a session on accounting for sustainability at our annual conference, AAT Future Finance 2020, and following up with a content theme to help members explore opportunities.

Individual organisations can ensure their own house is in order by looking at their carbon footprint and opportunities to use resources better. This is something AAT has also embarked upon.

Another wise action is to start researching changes in integrated reporting. Here are some areas to investigate:

  • Environmental social and governance information is increasingly being sought by stakeholders in addition to pure financial data. The London Stock Exchange has put together some guidance and good practice information which is available to view here.
  • Climate-related financial reporting – the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures Work has been working on disclosure practices.
  • Prince Charles’ Accounting For Sustainability Project (A4S) – which brokered the call to action – has a knowledge hub of case studies and guides.

Members making a difference
George Kyriacou MAAT went from trainee at Midland Bank to Deputy CFO of the United Nations’ global development agency.

Learn more

Making a difference

George Kyriacou MAAT became Deputy-CFO of the United Nations Development Programme.
Read his story here.

Read the call to action

The full text of the call to action can be read on the A4S website.

In all, 14 global bodies have signed up from the Accounting Business Network within A4S. They represent some 2.5 million accountants.

  • Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
  • Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the unified voice of AICPA and CIMA)
  • Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ)
  • Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI)
  • Consiglio Nazionale dei Dottori commercialistie degli Esperti Contabili (CNDCEC)
  • CPA Australia
  • CPA Canada
  • Institut der Wirtschaftsprüfer in Deutschland e.V. (IDW)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
  • International Federation of Accountants
  • Japanese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (JICPA)
  • Regnskap Norge/Accounting Norwayd

Image by Aline Dassel from Pixabay

Video commentary

Watch this video for additional commentary and insight from the UK’s leading accounting bodies.

David Nunn is Content Manager at AAT.

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