Australia and NZ accounting bodies join global drive for net-zero emissions

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand chief executive Ainslie van Onselen net zero emissions

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand chief executive Ainslie van Onselen. Source: supplied.

CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) have joined a group of 13 global and national accounting bodies in committing to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, and helping their members get there too.

Representing more than 300,000 accountants, CPA Australia and CA ANZ are both members of The Prince of Wales’ Accounting for Sustainability (A4S) Project Accounting Bodies Network (ABN).

Other members and signatories to the commitment include the heads of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants and the global Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, as well as representatives from bodies in Canada, Japan, the UK and Germany.

Altogether, members of the A4S Accounting Bodies Network represent more than 2.5 million professional accountants and students, spanning 179 countries.

The signatories have committed to reaching net-zero emissions within their own organisations “as soon as operationally possible”, and to publish a zero-emissions pathway, with specific targets and trajectory laid out, within the next 12 months.

They are also pledging to help provide advice to governments on achieving a net-zero economy, and to offer training, guidance and support to help their members reduce emissions in their own businesses.

The accounting groups view climate change as an economic risk, and say accountants will play a significant role in tackling some of the challenges it creates.

In a statement, CPA Australia chief executive Andrew Hunter said the accounting profession as a whole has a “privileged position” in the economy on a global scale.

“As trusted advisers, we’re privy to deep business insights about sustainability risks and opportunities,” he said.

“This knowledge creates an obligation to use our skills to protect our environmental heritage.”

CA ANZ chief Ainslie van Onselen pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as an example of a non-financial risk that can have huge ramifications for businesses and whole economies. The pandemic saw accountants more in demand than ever, and often stretched to breaking point, as their business customers grappled with the challenges of restrictions.

Climate change is likely to have a similar effect.

“Climate change is a non-financial risk that is no longer an issue on the horizon, it’s here and now,” van Onselen said.

“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.”

A4S executive chairman Jessica Fries praised the accounting bodies making the commitment, saying they are “showing leadership in the fight against climate change”.

“Accountants who work for the good of their businesses, and serve the public interest, have always been the backbone of stable economies,” she said.

“This commitment brings us closer to building a sustainable world.”

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