The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and 12 other accounting institutes have sent an open letter to political leaders at the Copenhagen conference calling for universal accounting standards for relevant financial reporting on climate change.
The 15 organisations come from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Honk Kong, Japan and South Africa. Among the signatories are the UK’s Accounting for Sustainability project, which has been pushing for standards for several years.
The open letter is a call for a single set of universally accepted standards for climate change disclosure in mainstream financial reports. The letter maintains that an independent, stakeholder-led body with appropriate links to public authorities should be established to develop and adopt the accounting standards.
There are de-facto standards out there, including the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) surveys and in 2007 the World Economic Forum created the Climate Disclosure Standards Board which proposed a framework for climate risk-related reporting by corporations in May 2009.
It’s clear that some sort of minimum standard is required, as any sift through the annual reports from corporations shows. There are too many ways that information can be interpreted and comparisons can be well-nigh impossible.
As far as the IT implications go, most carbon management and reporting solutions offer a number of ways to slice and dice the data and even more formats for reporting, so it’s probably not going to have much of an impact on the market (except, perhaps, to lower the market entry barrier for new suppliers).