Accounting profession leaders call for action against climate change

By Ken Tysiac

Leaders of the accounting profession across the world made a united stand Tuesday in calling for accountants to put their skills to work to help businesses fight climate change.

Fourteen accounting bodies representing members worldwide published a call to action urging accounting professionals to put sustainability and the fight against climate change at the forefront of their work.

“The accounting profession has long focused on assessing and managing financial risks,” Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, president and CEO of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, said in a news release. “However, the global risks we are seeing today, in particular environment-related risks, are pushing our profession to expand its remit.”

The following global bodies signed the call to action:

  • 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 Norway

The call to action comes amid increasing calls from the business world to address climate change. Last month, for example, BlackRock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink wrote in an open letter to CEOs that it plans to place sustainability at the center of its investment approach. BlackRock is one of the most powerful institutional investors in the world.

The accounting bodies said in their call to action that members can help bring about meaningful change because of their expertise with advising businesses about risk management and their responsibility to act in the public interest.

“As core members of almost every business, government, and nongovernmental organization, accountants are ideally positioned to help organizations assess and manage these new risks,” Melancon said. “Accountants have an important role to play improving an organization’s integrated thinking and decision-making capabilities to promote responsible business practices, improving outcomes for both stakeholders and our environment.”

In the call to action, the global accounting body leaders ask accountants across the world to:

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

This issue is relevant to accountants because of their role in risk management and the fact that climate change has emerged as a significant risk. Accountants also have a responsibility to act in the public interest.

“This is a call to action not just for accountants, but also for the professional bodies of which they are members,” ACCA Chief Executive Helen Brand said in a news release. “We all have an immense role to play here.”

Ken Tysiac (Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com) is the JofA’s editorial director.

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