Accounting for sustainability

A piece in this months Financial Management (March, 2010), the monthly journal of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) in London, reports on a research report which asks the basic question why are financial managers (i.e.  accountants) not getting more involved in important business issues like climate change strategy. Gillian Lees writes that businesses can be proactive or be pushed in relation to issues like climate change. Proactive seems like a much better approach for a business to be sustainable in the long-term, both economically and environmentally. Take energy costs as an example – these have and will increase as time goes on, so it makes sound business and environmental sense to control and reduce energy usage. The research reported in this piece suggests that when accountant are involved in climate-change work, the results were potentially  better. As a manager at Asda ( a large UK retailer) says, “the finance team brings the right rigour to ensure that we aren’t simply doing it because it feels like the right thing to do”. Put another way, the numeric and commercial acumen of accountants can mean that climate-change can be the right business thing to do also. The full CIMA research report on Accounting for Climate Change can be found at this link.

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About martinjquinn

I am an accounting academic, accountant and author based near Dublin, Ireland.

One response to “Accounting for sustainability”

  1. Gillian Lees says :

    Glad to see that you enjoyed the article. Watch out for the May 2010 edition of Financial Management for a follow-up article where I look at the case studies in a bit more detail. Getting involved in accounting for climate change and other sustainability issues is such an opportunity (well, more like a ‘must do’) for management accountants! CIMA is undertaking further work with the Prince of Wales’ Accounting for Sustainability project (A4S) and a book is due out in May. I will be blogging about it nearer the time, so watch out on my blog at
    Best wishes
    Gillian Lees

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