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Real Business : Winter 2008
24 REAL BUSINESSISSUE2,2008 science background, but many in the sector believe this is only because the finance profession hasn’t yet fully seized the opportu- nity that exists to contribute. Professor Carol Adams FCPA (see profile) is an academic and consultant in social and environmental accounting and sustainability reporting. “There are many opportunities for accountants to add value to this area,” she says. Adams believes CEOs understand the importance of addressing sustainability issues but CFOs and finance professionals need to embrace the challenge to quantify the non-financial business impacts. “There are many non-financial benefits to businesses for developing good sustainability practices,” explains Adams. “It helps in attracting and retaining staff – survey after survey has found that the best employees prefer organi- sations that are ethical. It builds trust with stakeholders, builds customer loyalty and reduces the risk of bad press.” Darryl Inns CPA is CFO at M2, a network independent provider of retail and wholesale fixed-line, mobile and data telecommunica- tions services in Australia and New Zealand. M2 recently launched www.greenmobiles. com.au, which allocates 10 per cent of a cus- tomer’s mobile phone bill towards acquitting or purchasing carbon abatement credits. The company is just as serious about greening its own operations. “Working in an environmentally aware company is very sat- isfying,” says Innis. able energy, and in particular, wind power.” The company has numerous wind energy projects underway in China and has begun work in India. Kelleher says the outlook in Australia is now also very strong. As well as renewable energy development, opportunities will continue to emerge in the area of carbon auditing, advice and trade. Gavin Pereira is environmental director with the Carbon Reduction Institute, which devel- oped a carbon accreditation program called NoCO2. “In Australia, the sustainability market has evolved in a haphazard and loosely regulated way,” he explains. “A lot of voluntary schemes have sprung up to enable corporations to do something about their climate change impact.” Now that Australia has ratified the Kyoto Protocol and work has begun on a blueprint for an emissions trading scheme, Pereira believes the green sector will take off even further. And because the assessment, analysis and reporting of carbon emissions will be mandated by the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007, the skill base of accounting professionals will be in high demand. “Accountants have very relevant skills for carbon accounting,” says Pereira. “We measure a carbon footprint based on the inputs of the business and we track those inputs via the business’ chart of accounts.” At present, the auditing function is typically performed by those with an environmental D espite the drought, Australia has never been greener. Terms like sustainability, clean energy, carbon offset- ting and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are being pumped into mainstream consciousness at a frenetic pace. The corporate world now understands the economic as well as the reputational benefits of being green. This, together with the federal government’s leg- islative push to compel business to reduce its emissions and increase the availability of renewable energy, means opportunities abound for young finance professionals to make an impact. In recent years, sustainability has become a serious business, with “green collar” career opportunities flourishing. Businesses that are engaged in developing renewable energy systems, auditing carbon emissions or designing carbon offsetting schemes, are well positioned to take advantage of the biggest global challenges – climate change, an energy crisis and global warming. It’s something that’s not lost on Mark Kelleher CPA (see profile), managing director of Roaring 40s, a leading renewable energy developer specialising in wind energy. “The federal government’s recent decision to extend the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) from 2 per cent to 20 per cent,” explains Kelleher, “has really increased the momentum for the development of renew- Green stars CPAs who enter the sustAinAbility seCtor hAve the oPPortunity to feel good while being PArt of the greAtest growth AreA for business, writes Diana elliott ? cpas and the environment
Issue 3 2008