Sustainability: Do accountants get it?

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The environment has taken centre stage in the latest portion of the election campaign, but are accountants lagging behind in the great ‘green rush’?

It may not have registered on the accounting calendar, but last Thursday was Earth Day – a global event designed to raise awareness of environmental issues. All sorts of individuals and businesses took part in the event, including Starbucks, which was offering free coffees for all customers who brought their own cups in for the day.

They weren’t the only ones – over 200 guests were gathered at London Zoo for the Green IT Awards, an event that recognised the contributions of technology firms (including accounting software providers) flying the flag for sustainability. You’d be forgiven for thinking that after last year’s economic trials and tribulations, environmental awareness would be the last thing on many board members’ minds. That’s not entirely true at the top end of the market, where demand for assurance on sustainability issues is increasing by all accounts, but a sizeable challenge remains in the mid-market sector to implement carbon reduction measures.

One name that accountants will recognise among those nominated for the awards is Access, who walked away with the Environmental Accounting Software of the Year gong for Access Dimensions...

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About Gina Dyer

About Gina Dyer

I've been a journalist for four years, writing on a wide variety of topics from business and finance to travel, culture and celebrities. I began my career as an editorial assistant for Palladian Publications, a B2B publisher specialising in technical magazines for professionals in primary industries. I later moved into consumer magazines as a staff writer for French Magazine, a monthly travel publication aimed at Francophiles, and was part of the launch team for The Traveller in France, a quarterly magazine produced for the French tourist board. I was also a regular contributor to online travel portal, and later worked with customer publishers Future Plus as a freelance production editor, before joining Sift Media in January 2009. I am currently Deputy Editor of


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26th Apr 2010 22:46

Really ?

The fact of the matter is we’re running out of resources, so we all have to manage down our carbon footprint”.



We have to get through the recession, maximise profits for our clients, and minimise expenses.

"Being green" is like "being a christian" - it's been hyped up by the eco-industry into some sort of new religion - well put me down as a aethiest.

And, supposing for one moment, that all the mumbo jumbo, pseudo-science, and dubious propoganda were correct - so what.   Do you honestly think that we should hamstring our industry with "green policies" whilst the largest polluters - India and China, ignore it and grab an even greater advamtage? 

Compared to those two countries, the alleged pollution caused by the UK is minute, irrelevent, meaningless.

We simply cannot afford to worry about being "green", and we should be advising our clients how to maximise their profits and survive, not advising them to take silly risks by being "green" and watch other countries drive them out of business.  In short, pushing clients to be "green" is unprofessional.

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28th Apr 2010 01:42

This is already here, Google Green and get on board

If anyone has any doubt over how this could ever apply to them have a quick look at the following links to the ACCA & ICAEW sites:

To quote from the latter page "Sustainability is the most important concern for business and society today".

As always in our profit seeking world, once any ethos or fashion passes a tipping point, and it's clear the bandwagon is filling, there will be businesses jumping on board for a share of the cake and the environmental and sustainable ideologies are the latest and are huge.  My largest client is one such company, two years ago it was one of my smallest and the recession didn't touch it.

So, unless we get our heads into some research and looking forward as opposed to backward, we will be faced with new eco/sust businesses approaching us for our services when we haven't the foggiest what they do or being unable to help other clients comply with environmental impact reporting within their financial accounts, some of which may also determine their tax liabilities.

Businesses will need to report on their policies and impact in order to give some measure nationally and internationally over compliance and meeting targets and who better to act as police and guides than accountants? Yes that was a bit tongue in cheek judging by the standard of cars in accountancy courses car parks.

From a personal point of view, it's good to see the steam roller move into second gear, it might raise awareness and has to be better than the stasis, disinterest or uninformed denial of the past 15-20 years.  Time will tell however whether it pulls us in the right direction and whether the simplified sound bites eminating from the 3 bandwaggoners will actually result in people "getting it", ie we can't carry on as we did, growth at all costs doesn't fit.

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28th Apr 2010 12:09

The Paperless Accountant

We can all be greener, I did it, there is no reason why you cannot . . .

The Proactive Accountant by day, the Paperless Expert by night,
Phone now 'cos I know the way, to help you get rid of the . . rubbish!

-- @proactivepaul

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28th Apr 2010 12:38


Presumably your posting was in response to my comments over businesses jumping onto the bandwagon? 

As you seem to have the paperless bit sussed do you have any views on the rest of the issues, ie the other 99.9%?

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