Climate change is top of the news agenda as we head towards the UN Climate Change conference in Copenhagen in December. Preparatory meetings are being held – the most recent in Singapore, where it was reported on the BBC News website that world leaders said it will not be possible to reach a climate change deal ahead of the conference in Denmark.

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), the global accountancy body, believes that it is more crucial than ever to move climate change and carbon reporting towards the top of the agenda of decision makers.

Because of this, ACCA recently organised a high level conference in Brussels on the 9th of November. The conference aimed to provide an assessment of where climate change mitigation practices and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions accounting are presently and where they need to get to, in order to meet the ambitions of the upcoming COP15 summit

“ACCA has been a pioneer across the sustainability field since 1990 and has identified carbon accounting as a key area of focus over the forthcoming year”, stressed Brendan Murtagh, ACCA’s President who spoke at the event.

The audience, composed of representatives from the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Permanent Representations of the Member States in Brussels, from green NGOs as well as from many other stakeholders involved in the fight against climate change, actively participated in a debate led by a prestigious line up of speakers including Pavel Misiga , head of Unit Environment and Industry at DG Environment, MEP Mairead McGuinness, Chris Tuppen, chief sustainability officer of BT, as well as Brendan Murtagh, ACCA President and Roger Adams ACCA’s Executive Director-Policy.

“Climate change should be seen as an opportunity rather than just as a threat, especially by business”, said MEP McGuinness.

The main conclusions of the discussions indicate that carbon reporting is proven to drive behaviour and that clear and consistent policy signals are vital to help industry make necessary changes.

“Companies should be measuring and reporting things such as physical, regulatory and strategic risks, with respect to climate change” Roger Adams said, while according to Pavel Misiga, “what gets measured gets managed”. The EU Commission has empirical evidence that companies that report their GHG emissions improve their performance.

In addition, it was highlighted by Chris Tuppen that “an internationally recognised carbon reporting standard is needed since national standards are unhelpful, especially for global companies with significant emissions”. One instrument will of course not solve all the problems, but carbon reporting has the potential to address many of the issues.

Like the recent meeting of world leaders in Sinpagore, speakers at ACCA’s event indicated that it is unlikely that a legally binding agreement will be reached in Copenhagen. But on a more optimistic note, the attendees agreed there may be a political agreement which paves the way for legally binding targets.

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