Net-Zero accountancy initiative launches for UK profession

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Net Zero Now estimates that accountancy practices in the UK are responsible for nearly half a million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year

Called the Net-Zero Accountancy Initiative, the scheme is being jointly led by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT). The certification body the Good Business Charter, HR and payroll tech giant Sage and climate action consultancy Net Zero Now are also helping to lead the scheme. Net Zero Now is notably the organisation behind the UK’s Net-Zero Pubs and Bars initiative.

Under the Net-Zero Accountancy Initiative, accountancy firms will be able to access a profession-wide net-zero protocol. The protocol informs a new standard through which firms can apply for a certification mark. This certification mark can be used to either evidence that a firm is operating at net-zero status, or that it is working towards net-zero by a certain date.

To support firms to reach the standard’s requirements, the Initiative is providing a digital platform hosting information and tools for emissions measurement and the development of tailored emissions reduction plans. The platform also provides a portal for the purchase of offsets to compensate for residual, unavoidable emissions.

The formal launch of the initiative today (26 April) follows a pilot which ran from November 2021 to January 2022. That pilot found that key emissions sources for most small or medium-sized accounting firms are energy for offices, employee commuting, business travel and IT equipment. As such, the sector is not particularly hard-to-abate. Instead, the pilot found that barriers to reaching net-zero for SMEs included a lack of in-house resources and expertise for the measuring, reducing and offsetting of emissions.

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