In this week’s issue, Sir Michael Peat, Prince Charles’s principal private
secretary, writes of the need to give accountants the ‘tools and information to
take sustainability into account more often’. And that’s the work of the
Accounting for Sustainability project that Prince Charles is heading up – to
‘adapt accounting procedures to the critical challenge of minimising the
wasteful damage done to the fragile world around us’.
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In a way it’s odd that, given the importance of accountants to environment,
it’s taken a non accountant to get work underway on the technical measures
finance departments can use to monitor their environmental performance.
Crucially, the Prince and Sir Michael have worked hard to win buy-in from the
profession – a factor that could be essential if Accounting for Sustainability
is to prove more than a publicity exercise.
But our poll shows that the message does seem to be getting through. What’s
worrying is another poll result that reveals almost half our readers do not
believe investors are paying much attention and will not discriminate between
companies on the basis of their environmental records.
Accountants may have to do more than define the measures by which a company
can be judged: they will have to take those measures to the investor community
and convince them they are worth using.
But here’s the important thing. Accountants know these numbers. If anyone can
may make these arguments they can. All that’s needed is the will.