Copenhagen Climate Conference

The following post has been sent to Blogactiv by Veena Hudson, Head of Public Affairs, ACCA.

The typical accounting professional has a pivotal position within an organisation and is well qualified to make a vital contribution toward climate policy and its implementation.

Although some influential political leaders appear to have woken up to the enormity of the issue of climate change, they are taking their time to consider how to mitigate the impact of climate change while continuing to rely on fossil fuel and without losing the popular vote.

In contrast, some major global organisations are pressing ahead and actively responding to the challenge. In acknowledgement of the fact that climate change is so fundamental to the future, ACCA ( the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) has prioritised the consideration of it, as the typical accounting professional has a pivotal position within an organisation and is well qualified to make a vital contribution toward climate policy and its implementation.

To that end, ACCA proposes a range of actions in areas such as evaluating the returns on low-carbon investment proposals, developing organisations-relevant carbon and GHG measurement protocols, advising employers and clients about how emissions trading regimes operate and developing related response strategies, providing improved disclosure of information on companies’ carbon and GHG emissions and climate change risk through the annual report and accounts, auditing and assuring carbon and GHG disclosures, as well as generally quantifying and profiling the financial consequence of climate change.

ACCA would like to share 6 top line messages:

1. Recent projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warn that that unless action is taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions, global warming will exceed the danger level of a 2°C increase. According to the IPCC’s worst-case scenario, unless there is urgent action, climate change could reach dangerous levels as early as 2050. Current assessments show that this is likely to happen. Unprecedented action is required nationally, regionally, and internationally to address this.

2. 2009 represents more or less the last chance to achieve an agreement, if the agreement is to be approved and ratified in time for it to come into force after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

3. COP 15 is a watershed moment, and yet hopes for a binding treaty with hard commitments being signed in Copenhagen are low, due in part to the constraints of US domestic politics. However, despite the huge challenge to reach agreement, there are positive signs that real action will be taken, particularly now that US President Barack Obama has signalled US engagement and is introducing domestic legislation on climate change.

4. A key challenge is that as the financial crisis lengthens, there is an increased reluctance by countries to commit resources to climate change policies and taking measures which (in the short-term) will harm the competitiveness of domestic industries. The fight against climate change must remain a priority even in difficult economic times, which could actually provide a golden opportunity to encourage investment in a low-carbon economy, specifically in energy-efficient technologies and renewable energy and in creating lower-carbon growth and green jobs.

5. It is essential, that both the US and the emerging economies are brought into the global framework for combating climate change. For Kyoto’s successor to succeed, both the US and China to have to sign up to it, however, there are major issues here that need to be addressed first. It is also important to acknowledge that there are significant regional variations in terms of the impacts of climate change and it’s often developing nations who are most affected, most vulnerable and least able to adapt to changing weather conditions arising as a result of global warming.

6. Developing a global framework to address climate change needs to be a collaborative effort between government, business, scientists and society, to promote a common understanding across all stakeholder groups of the issues at hand and how they should be addressed.

Veena Hudson
Head of Public Affairs

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