Going green is good for business. More and more stakeholders – from investors to board members, and regulators to consumers are asking companies to be low-carbon and environmentally friendly.
However, walking the talking can be tricky and as Chartered Accountants, it is important to ensure your organisation’s environmental statements are accurate and would not be susceptible to allegations of greenwashing.
To unpick the topic in more detail, FinBiz2030 – a joint initiative between Chartered Accountant Worldwide and One Young World – hosted a webinar featuring a truly global panel of experts that guided the audience through the maze that is greenwashing.
The panel was ably chaired by The Financial Times Chief UK Business Correspondent, Daniel Thomas and featured Michael Izza, CEO of ICAEW and Chairman of Chartered Accountants Worldwide, Kate Robertson, the Co-Founder of One Young World, Tsuyoshi (Yoshi) Domoto an ESG and Sustainability Consultant at GLIN Impact Capital, Emma Schuster, a Climate Risk Analyst at Just Share, Aisling McCaffrey ACA, Sustainability, Financial Services Advisory at Grant Thornton Ireland, Empower Future Leader 2022 and Chartered Star 2020/21 and Elena Margineanu, Ph.D. Lecturer at the Free International University of Moldova.
Michael Izza, CEO of ICAEW and Chairman of Chartered Accountants said, “Companies have got a responsibility to provide accurate information to their stakeholders, and we as chartered accountants have a duty to ensure that this information is transparent and honest.” He went on to remark that “we need to encourage companies to report on their environmental impacts in a clear and honest manner, using internationally recognised frameworks and standards”.
Kate Robertson, the Co-Founder of One Young World stated, “I urge you in your professional lives, to understand your value to the world. It’s beyond price. Nobody else is going to hold greenwashing to account.”
Daniel Thomas, The Financial Times Chief UK Business Correspondent, and moderator of the webinar suggested that “the climate goals will not be achieved if people aren’t being held to account on these things and that’s the role of the accountant here.”
While Tsuyoshi (Yoshi) Domoto, ESG and Sustainability Consultant at GLIN Impact Capital said, “it’s really important for companies to be completely transparent about their environmental impact and disclose relevant information about their sustainability efforts”. He went on to say that “if a company is trying to take it’s sustainability issues seriously, it must be tied directly into its business lines, and must be part of the company’s vision and its long-term strategy.” He recommended that viewers “do your homework. Research. If there is a particular brand that you support, take the time to read through the sustainability report, learn about certifications – You are the biggest change maker.”
Emma Schuster, a Climate Risk Analyst at Just Share gave a legal perspective: “In truth, companies just need to be on board with the fundamental reality of the issues. So, with climate related claims, that means, understanding the urgency, understanding the impacts, understanding what needs to be done, and then aligning strategies and plans with that.”
Aisling McCaffrey, ACA, Sustainability, Financial Services Advisory at Grant Thornton Ireland believes “we have a massive role to play in enabling that kind of move forward, into an environment where we just have access to much better information. I think that’s based on our skill set from being able to look at, for example, the overlap of the financial requirements, let’s say financial reporting requirements and being able to interpret those.” She went on to suggest that “when we’re looking at energy efficiency of portfolios, for example, with a bank and their mortgage book, it’s trying to find that balance of the data that’s readily available, versus plugging the gaps with a logic and a methodology that people can stand over, or not disclosing at all, because you don’t have the information.”
Elena Magineanu, Ph.D. Lecturer at the Free International University of Moldova ended the webinar with one final, thought provoking comment: “Education and the capacity to connect the dots is important.”
If you would like to watch the webinar in full, on demand, follow the link: Greenwashing: Avoid, Identify, Act – Chartered Accountants Worldwide
To download our greenwashing explainer, click here: What is Greenwashing – Chartered Accountants Worldwide
And if you’d like a comprehensive sustainability roadmap to set you on your way, you will find that here: Sustainability Roadmap – Chartered Accountants Worldwide