Net-Zero Accountancy Initiative launches for UK profession

Organisations from across the UK’s accounting profession have jointly launched a new initiative that will help firms within the sector reach net-zero ahead of the national 2050 deadline.

Net-Zero Accountancy Initiative launches for UK profession

Called the Net-Zero Accountancy Initiative, the scheme is being jointly led by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT). The certification body the Good Business Charter, HR and payroll tech giant Sage and climate action consultancy Net Zero Now are also helping to lead the scheme. Net Zero Now is notably the organisation behind the UK’s Net-Zero Pubs and Bars initiative.

Under the Net-Zero Accountancy Initiative, accountancy firms will be able to access a profession-wide net-zero protocol. The protocol informs a new standard through which firms can apply for a certification mark. This certification mark can be used to either evidence that a firm is operating at net-zero status, or that it is working towards net-zero by a certain date.

To support firms to reach the standard’s requirements, the Initiative is providing a digital platform hosting information and tools for emissions measurement and the development of tailored emissions reduction plans. The platform also provides a portal for the purchase of offsets to compensate for residual, unavoidable emissions.

The formal launch of the initiative today (26 April) follows a pilot which ran from November 2021 to January 2022. That pilot found that key emissions sources for most small or medium-sized accounting firms are energy for offices, employee commuting, business travel and IT equipment. As such, the sector is not particularly hard-to-abate. Instead, the pilot found that barriers to reaching net-zero for SMEs included a lack of in-house resources and expertise for the measuring, reducing and offsetting of emissions.

“Achieving net-zero needs careful and consistent measurement, accounting, reporting and verification – and accountants’ skills are vital to realising all this,” said the ACCA’s head of policy, technical and strategic engagement, Glenn Collins.

“As a professional body with our own commitments to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – including achieving ne- zero – we know that our members are committed to contributing solutions in the public interest and achieving climate change targets. Being part of this prominent steering group will ensure a consistent and coordinated approach as reaching net-zero cannot be done in silos – it needs integrated thinking, expertise and action.”

“Widespread change on net-zero can only be achieved through collective action from business, government, NGOs and civil society, and accountants can play a vital leadership role in this,” added the ICAEW’s director of sustainability Richard Spencer.

Readers interested in this news may wish to revisit an exclusive blog from the ACCA’s head of sustainability Emmeline Skelton, penned for edie last month as part of our International Women’s Day 2022 coverage. Access that blog here.

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