Two Australian academics, Joanne Tingey-Holyoak (research associate) and Roger Burritt (professor of accounting), both of the University of South Australia Centre for Accounting, Governance and Sustainability (CAGS), have written an article on Australian discussion site “The Conversation” on involving accountants in carbon measurement.
They say that accountants need to collaborate with people from other disciplines, if they are going to be able to give clients what they are asking for, in the field of sustainability.
Accounting for carbon “requires thinking beyond discipline boundaries to incorporate elements of engineering, economics, law, and social and natural science,” they write.
Accountants also need “to create a new way of engaging with the broad issues facing business and society.”
“Accountants need to understand and engage with physical measures of carbon and carbon equivalent outputs from different processes that affect their clients – inputs to industrial processes such as furnaces, energy sources for driving production and service delivery, product based carbon footprints and carbon released when products reach the end of their lives.”
“Engineers have considerable expertise in this field.
“Accountants need to engage with and understand engineering metrics.”
“Similarly, economists have expertise in market pricing and in the provision of prices where markets do not exist.”
The writers interviewed 121 professional accounting firm managers in South Australia and they said they “perceive sustainability education as important when recruiting graduates for their intake,” they wrote.
“The [accounting] profession has to acknowledge the need for a wider skill set that incorporates understanding of the metrics of other disciplines,” they said.
“For example, water accounting – which manages both water shortages and pricing – requires engineering, science and other disciplines like meteorology, to develop sustainability measures.”