Scotland’s Climate Week – An opportunity to reset and adapt
As part of Scotland’s Climate Week, we summarise how we can all play a part in tackling the issue of climate change.
This week, 14-20 September 2020, marks Scotland’s Climate Week. A chance for us to consider how governments, business, the accountancy profession, and individuals, can, using our collective voice, contribute to the Net Zero ambition set by the Scottish Government.
Sarah-Jayne Dominic, Senior Strategic Advisor at GRI, who Chairs the ICAS Sustainability Panel, commented: “We are very pleased to support Scotland’s Climate Week and see it as a great opportunity to communicate to everyone how they can contribute to tackling climate change.
"ICAS and the accountancy profession have a critical role to play: accountants can help their organisation’s contribution to reducing carbon emissions, ensuring they are well-positioned to mitigate its impacts and understand how it affects them financially”.
While COVID-19 shifted the focus away from the issue of climate change as, globally, we responded to the scale of the pandemic, we now have an opportunity as part of the recovery and rebuilding process, to consider how we can adapt our business models, our policies and our behaviour to tackle the issue of climate change.
Last month, 22 August to be precise, we reached what has become known as ‘Earth Overshoot Day’. This is the day on which we will have consumed all the natural and biological resources that the earth can produce and renew each year. Interestingly, this date falls more than three weeks later than it did in 2019, but this shift is largely attributable to the reduced emissions and consumption during the pandemic, rather than by design. As accountants, we understand the concept of supply and demand so it is obvious that this over-consumption cannot continue. If this was a balance sheet, we would be eating into our reserves.
There is now a campaign launched by the California-based Global Footprint Network, the research organisation responsible for developing the metric, to make a concerted effort to move forward Earth Overshoot by five days each year. If we achieve this, by 2050, we would be consuming only the annual resources that the planet is able to renew and produce.
On 1 September, the Scottish Government published its Programme for Government 2020/21. The actions include a national mission to create new jobs, good jobs and green jobs – with a particular focus on young people, supporting retraining and investing in a Green New Deal to tackle climate change. The government recognises that there is an opportunity to create new jobs and growth as part of the Green Recovery.
ICAS is also demonstrating our commitment to tackling climate change through our operations, our advocacy and influencing work, and our training provision. This year, we should have been looking forward to the annual Climate Change Conference (COP 26) being hosted in Glasgow in November, giving us an opportunity to showcase Scotland’s commitment to, and progress in, tackling the issue of climate change. While COVID-19 has postponed that event to 2021 we must not let the need to tackle the issue of climate change as a matter of urgency slip down our agenda. ICAS has not pressed pause on our commitment to this issue and it remains a key area of focus for our work and activities.
In February of this year, ICAS, along with the CEOs of other global accounting bodies, issued a call to action to the accountancy profession to tackle the issue of climate change as a matter of urgency. In June 2020, ICAS and other leading professional bodies, the UK Government and the Green Finance Institute, signed up to the first Green Finance Education Charter.
So what can we as accountants do to help with the transition to Net Zero and move forward Earth Overshoot Day?
- As financial professionals and business advisers, our skills enable us to identify and measure material climate change related-risks, and the actions needed to mitigate those risks. Climate change is a risk for most organisations therefore we can help to ensure that it is on management’s agenda and embedded within their business model and organisational strategy.
- Our reporting responsibility also enables us to ensure that climate change-related issues in the form of risks and opportunities are clearly, accurately and prominently disclosed and included in corporate reports.
- The role of assurance is also important as this adds an element of credibility and rigour to the information reported allowing users to place some reliance on what has been disclosed.
In 2015, ICAS launched its business ethics initiative ‘The Power of One’ calling on all CAs to place ethical leadership at the heart of their professional responsibilities, to shape the culture and values of their organisations, to help re-establish ethics at the core of business practices and to rebuild public trust in business. Importantly, this initiative recognised the power of every individual CA to influence those around them and help shape the culture and behaviour of an organisation. If we can harness that power to respond to the challenge of climate change across our 22,000+ Members, then we can all help achieve the Net Zero ambition and play a key role in the Green Recovery.
If you would like to find out more about the work of ICAS on the subject of Climate Change and sustainability, please contact Anne Adrain firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about Scotland’s Climate Week 2020 and how you can get involved.
Zero Waste Scotland is also planning a series of events during this week.
To get involved with the campaign to move Earth Overshoot Day, follow the hashtag #MoveTheDate