Accountants have a vital role to play in the reduction of carbon
emissions, according to CPA Australia president Alex Malley.

CPA Australia has regularly participated in consultations on
climate change and business sustainability in the country.
According to Malley, the association’s involvement is particularly
vital because businesses will face a critical challenge to manage
resources in a way that both reduces carbon emissions and meets
stringent government regulations.

“Accountants with specialist business skills in the accumulation,
processing, presentation and interpretation of business information
are fundamental to enabling businesses to successfully prepare for
and adapt to climate change,” Malley said. “So accountants are
really at the coalface of this issue… Through our continuing
professional development programme we will also ensure that our
members are equipped to operate in this changing
landscape.”  

CPA Australia recently released a discussion paper ‘Emissions
trading and related policy initiatives’, to inform and educate its
members on the challenges climate change presents on the economy,
financial reporting and corporate social responsibility.

Malley explained: “In it we recommend a series of tax and other
fiscal incentives that government must provide to encourage
behavioural change among those businesses not directly involved in
emissions trading. These include initiatives such as increased tax
concessions for research and development of low emissions
technology.

“Smaller and medium-sized businesses will be fundamentally affected
as [they are] clients, suppliers, contractors and so forth to the
big emitters. There is also the significant issue of consumer
sentiment, which increasingly demands a greater consideration of
sustainability issues.

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The upshot of all this is a greater demand for accountants to
provide timely and rigorously prepared information, which can be
applied not only to compliance with emissions regulations but to
critical areas such as sustainable capital investment.”

CPA Australia said it is determined to adopt a ‘practice what we
preach’ approach and has already commissioned the Carbon Reduction
Institute to audit its global greenhouse gas emissions. CPA
Australia’s carbon footprint in 2006 was just over 18,000 tonnes of
carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, which is relatively low for an
organisation of its size and type, the association said.

Melanie White

Australia greenhouse gas emissions breakdown by industry sector