LONDON-The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants recommends in a new report that environmental regulators should work with international accounting standard-setters to develop a universal climate change reporting standard for organizations of all sizes.

The suggestion was one of several made by the ACCA in anticipation of a United Nations climate change conference scheduled to take place in Copenhagen in December, on the heels of the recent conference in New York.

"The accountant has a pivotal position within an organization in making a vital contribution towards climate change policy and its implementation," said the ACCA position paper. "Accountants take on roles in various areas, such as evaluating the returns on low-carbon investment proposals, advising employers and clients on emissions-trading regimes, developing organization-relevant carbon and [greenhouse gas key performance indicators], and providing disclosure of information through annual reports and accounts. In the future, it will be the role of accountants to represent carbon-related actions in financial accounting terms in the annual reporting process."

Other recommendations in the report include developing an effective compliance system to measure and verify the carbon reduction efforts of various countries, and that governments continue to urge organizations of all sizes to produce appropriately structured carbon reports.

"The dual challenges of climate and the economy have led to a unique opportunity to rebuild the global markets with systems sympathetic to climate change," said ACCA chief executive officer Helen Brand. "The trillion-dollar bailouts of the banking sector prove that governments and businesses around the world can work together quickly to avert disaster."

More broadly, the paper addresses concerns that global economic instability could lead to a decline in direct environmental investments and reduce the rigor of future climate change legislation. The ACCA's report recommends that governments should respond to economic conditions by implementing measures that will encourage environmental investments and a more sustainable approach from business.

To view the report, go to www.accaglobal.com/pubs/about/public_affairs/unit/global_briefings/cop15_aug09.pdf.

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