We can only deplore that businesses that are not genuinely committed to the green agenda will use the economic downturn as an excuse not to invest in it. However, the debate should not be the economy versus the environment. Climate change needs to be tackled head-on and all the evidence has shown that putting this off will only cost us more later, in all senses. In fact, the shift to a low-carbon economy will result in significant business opportunities with the creation of new markets for low-carbon technologies and products worth billions. There are also measures, such as reducing energy consumption, that, far from being expensive to implement, actually save money.

In the future, it is likely that the range and scope of environmental taxes will increase. ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is about to publish a study showing that one of the most important examples of where governments should step in is to change behaviours which can damage the environment. It also highlights the role to be played by accountants in efforts to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by increasing carbon taxes on the usage of fossil fuels while promoting their reduction for payroll, income or corporate taxes.

There is no miracle solution, but the combination of environmental taxes, incentives, trading schemes, carbon accounting, regulation and voluntary measures accompanied by a well designed, comprehensive global climate agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol is essential to help the world move to a low-carbon economy.

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