CEOs of several major accounting organizations around the world have signed an open letter urging world leaders to agree on reducing carbon emissions.

The letter comes ahead of a major climate change summit, known as COP 21, in Paris next week. In the letter, the accounting group leaders asked governments to commit to an agreement in Paris that provides a clear signal that governments will act to achieve a low carbon, sustainable future, and put in place a framework that sets out necessary government actions, reduces uncertainty and enables investors, businesses and others to make informed decisions that are consistent with this aim.

The accounting organizations signing the letter are all members of the A4S Accounting Bodies Network, associated with Prince Charles’s Accounting for Sustainability Project.

“COP21 offers a rare moment when the global community has an opportunity to commit to actions that will protect our economy, environment and society,” said Richard Spencer, co-chair of the Accounting Bodies Network working group, in a statement. ”The accountancy profession plays an important role in helping organizations respond to climate change risks and impacts to create resilient businesses. We urge world leaders to seize the moment with bold, ambitious and thoughtful commitments that will facilitate the actions by the private and public sector to deliver a sustainable future.”

The A4S Accounting Bodies Network has committed to a set of principles that support action by the accounting community to address climate change. Through these principles the Accounting Bodies Network has committed to equip accountants with the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to support their organization's response to climate change by incorporating into training and professional education, driving thought leadership, and working with others to accelerate learning and progress. They have also committed to influence and inform their membership to understand the implications of climate change, and how approaches such as the adoption of integrated reporting can support an effective response.

The chief executives who signed the letter include Mark Farrar of the Association of Accounting Technicians, Helen Brand of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Lee White of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, Charles Tilley of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Rob Whiteman of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, Alex Malley of CPA Australia, Kevin Dancey of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, Gerardo Longobardi of Consiglio Nazionale dei Dottori Commercialisti e Degli Esperti Contabili, Klaus-Peter Naumann of the Institut der Wirtschaftsprfer in Deutschland, Michael Izza of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, Anton Colella of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, P. V. Bhattad of the Institute of Cost Accountants of India.

Notably absent from the letter was any accounting organization in the U.S., although the American Institute of CPAs is a member of the A4S Accounting Bodies Network.

Commenting on the publication of the letter, Anne Adrain, co-chair of the Accounting Bodies Network working group, said, “It is widely acknowledged that climate change will lead to significant impacts on businesses and that a clear policy environment is needed to aid them to plan effectively and build business resilience. Professional accountants have a key role to play in enabling organizations to measure their progress, not only financially, but also more broadly in terms of the key environmental and social impacts that are critical to their success.”

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