UK accountants report inaction on climate targets

A significant number (44 per cent) of ACCA UK accountants and finance professionals say their organisations have no set targets to be net zero compliant by 2050.

ACCA questioned 3,000 finance personnel globally ahead of next week's COP26 environmental summit in Glasgow, with 609 respondents from the UK.

Of the UK respondents, a third (31 per cent) said their firms have no plans to put any targets in place. Only a fifth (21 per cent) of UK organisations have set any targets, but this is 6 per cent above the global average of 15 per cent.

In addition, 40 per cent said their organisations will be willing to invest much more in addressing climate change over the next “three to five years” - 2 per cent above the global average of 38 per cent.

But 15 per cent say firms will be keeping their investment the same and 5 per cent will be investing less over the coming years.

Three-quarters (76 per cent) agree it is important that accountancy and finance teams are involved in supporting their organisations to tackle climate change, but they see barriers holding them back, such as the internal organisational perception that climate action is not viewed as the responsibility of the finance team (54 per cent).

Other barriers were a lack of commercial incentive (36 per cent), a lack of support from leadership (24 per cent) and poor data (23 per cent).

Globally, 66 per cent believed that helping their organisation to tackle climate change will be part of their job to “some extent” or “significant extent” over the next five years. But this drops to 57 per cent in the UK.

The research found that 15 per cent of UK accountants believe they won’t be involved in the process at all – 4 per cent higher than the global average of 11 per cent.

Claire Bennison, head of ACCA UK, said: “Whilst it's clear that UK organisations' hearts are in the right place with four-in-ten committing to invest more in tackling climate change, they do not currently have the framework in place to provide the support needed or track impact.”

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