ACCA insists sustainable, climate resilient future is achievable
New report offers recommendations ahead of UN Climate Change Conference 2009
10 Sep 2009
ACCA has published a new report in which it stresses that global economic instability could lead to a decline in direct environmental investments and reduce the rigour of future climate change legislation.
The report, which is launched in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference 2009 meeting in December – the COP 15, offers eight recommendations for governments, policy makers and business, and suggests that governments should respond to the economic conditions by implementing measures that will encourage environmental investments and a more sustainable approach from business.
'The dual challenges of climate and economy have led to a unique opportunity to rebuild the global markets with systems sympathetic to climate change,' said Helen Brand, ACCA chief executive. 'And the trillion dollar bailout of the banking sector proves that governments and businesses around the world can work together quickly to avert disaster.
'Business has 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 and New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the US and Canada.'
The main recommendations outlined in the report are:
- A new agreement must consist of a shared vision and contain a clear regulatory framework that is valid, ideally until 2030 or 2050.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 co-ordinated strategy to tackle the financial crisis in a sustainable way, the possibility still exists that the stimulus and recovery packages may lock us into the root causes of climate change,' said Brand. 'If we follow the model of the banking bailout, we can achieve a sustainable, low carbon, climate resilient future.'