Accountants play vital role in embedding a green economy into businesses
Beacon Staff Reporter
The coming years will see Canada’s corporations, policy makers and citizens at a tipping point in their relationship with the green economy, a new report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) said.
The report discussed the issues around one fundamental question “Is Canada’s corporate world ready for the Green Economy?” and concluded that the country had reached a decisive moment, where the accountancy profession has a critical role to play in ensuring that the outcome was not to the detriment of Canada’s future generations and the natural resources on which it depends.
The report gathers opinions from two ACCA-organized roundtables held in Vancouver and Toronto early this year.
Delegates at these events were asked what they and their organizations needed most to help them prepare for and participate in the Green Economy.
The top three priorities were to see more guidance and tools to improve practical knowledge, market analysis, and regional policy context and implications.
“The Green Economy demands our attention as we are reaching a critical and pivotal time – how far that balance goes will depend on the global market and its appetite for Canada’s raw materials, as much as on national and provincial priorities, choices and treaties here,” said Suzanne Godbehere, head of ACCA Canada.
Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR) Executive Director Steven Fish added: “ACCA’s report reinforces the critical role accountants have in embedding sustainability into business operations. They build the case, articulate the risk associated with ignoring global social and environmental challenges, and ultimately build CFO buy-in.”
Godbehere also said that governance and measurement as key issues for Canada, especially when it came to supporting treaties.
“The two years – 2011 and 2012 – have been a challenging time for Canada on the international stage. In November 2011, Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Climate Treaty; Canada was also seen as one of the oil-producing countries that blocked a clause in phasing out fossil fuel subsidies at the Rio +20 Earth Summit. At a provincial level, challenges are being addressed, but on a federal level there are gaps,” she said.
The report also included case studies which illustrate the challenges faced by Canadian businesses when embracing the Green Economy.
Walmart’s Balzac refrigerated food distribution centre near Calgary is one of the greenest commercial buildings in the country, combining renewable power with smart design to radically reduce its environmental footprint.
Another case study looked at Better Place, whose Ontario pilot is helping to bring sustainable motoring to Canada through an integrated approach to electric vehicles, batteries, financing and charging infrastructure.
Loblaw’s commitment to sustainable fish procurement and retailing has expanded the use of sustainability certification across different species of seafood and earned the company a significant recognition for its comprehensive efforts.
Domtar and its efforts to ensure the sustainability credentials of its products provided a full suite of sustainability information to buyers through its innovative Paper Trail online tool.
Vancity supports its customers’ sustainability choices through auto loans, home improvement loans and green business financing that favours greener options.
Suzanne Godbehere concluded: “Canada faces particular challenges and opportunities when it comes to transitioning to a Green Economy. While the country has a huge wealth of natural capital, it is also highly diversified economically, and has proven resilient to external shocks. The part accountants play in addressing and helping with this transition is important – and thankfully the report asserts that they are now better briefed, equipped and ready to play their part in embracing the Green Economy in Canada.”