As the recent record-breaking temperatures have shown, climate change remains a global crisis which is only getting more severe with every passing year.
The government has put in place a legally binding target for the UK to reach Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 (and cut them 78% by 2035, when compared to 1990 levels). This essentially means that, as a country, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we produce will have to be balanced against the amount that we remove from the atmosphere.
For us at Net Zero Now we believe that action needs to be taken across the business spectrum far, far sooner than 2050. Businesses of all sizes across the UK must take action to limit their carbon footprint and reduce emissions, and they need to act now.
Accountants sit at the heart of all businesses and as such are a vital catalyst for change. There are over 280,000 accountants in the UK who advise over 5 million businesses and individuals, and so have enormous outreach and opportunity for instigating climate action.
Taking action on climate is good for business too
For the business community, not only does taking climate action benefit the planet, it also makes good business sense.
Customers demand it – A focus on sustainability encourages environmentally-conscious customers to choose you over a less sustainable practice. There are increasingly high expectations for businesses to make a visibly positive impact through their operations, and it has been proved that consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable goods and switch brands based on environmental consideration.
Employees expect it – Current employees inside your company – and prospective new recruits – are likely to value sustainability programmes, which can lead to a widespread improvement in all aspects of staff engagement. Those seeking employment today are also now placing sustainability factors as high on their lists of requirements for a new employer.
Investors require it – ESG is becoming a top priority for investors. As of 2018 more than $30 trillion in funds were held in sustainable or green investments, a rise of 34% in two years. If your business is looking for investment you can be sure that a sustainability strategy will be one of the pre-requisites.
Engaging with the current crisis and developing a credible strategy will allow accountancy firms to play a key role in advising businesses on how to mitigate risks and maximise opportunities. Meanwhile, making offices more energy efficient can actually save you money, as well as spurring innovation for new products and services within your business.
Accountants will play a key role in our carbon future
Increased investor, consumer, government and public pressure to reach Net Zero means that climate litigation is increasing worldwide. And while we already have obligations in place on our larger firms to report on their carbon emissions, we can expect that to soon be rolled out to all UK businesses, no matter their size.
‘Carbon accounting’ as it is known will soon become a requirement for all businesses and it will be our accountancy firms who will be asked to lead the way in tracking and reporting this, as we all embark on the road to Net Zero.
Net Zero. Now.
Net Zero is a pragmatic response to the climate challenge which many large professional service businesses are already working towards, proving that environmentally-conscious companies can operate profitably.
Going Net Zero is an opportunity to lead by example before more drastic measures are put into place. Here’s what industry body and Net Zero Now partner, the ICAEW, had to say:
“I believe the accountancy profession has the potential to play a huge leadership role in acting on the climate crisis. We as a profession have a role to play in solving this problem, and it will only be achieved through collective action across business, government, NGOs and civil society. ICAEW have already embarked on our decarbonisation journey and are here to support our members and firms by providing the necessary tools and guidance to do the same. We hope that the Net Zero Now Protocol will encourage our members to embark on their own net zero journeys”
Richard Spencer, Director of Sustainability, ICAEW
Make your own commitment to going Net Zero Now. Find out more about measuring and reducing your carbon emissions and get certified as a Net Zero accountancy practise: www.netzeronow.org/accountants