Climate change

The accounting profession has a significant role to play in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Here’s what you need to know and what you can do.

In brief

  • Climate change is a business risk, not just an environmental, social and governance issue
  • Professional accountants have a responsibility to act in the public interest, which many now argue includes helping organisations to address climate change
  • Chartered Accountants ANZ provides our members with the support and training opportunities they need to apply their skills to this challenge

Disclosure of climate change risk

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) is industry led and has developed a set of recommendations for voluntary climate-related financial risk disclosures to be made within the financial filings of an entity.

In June 2019, the Task Force published a status report noting that although disclosure of climate-related financial information has increased since 2016, it is still insufficient for investors, highlighting the need for continued efforts to support implementation of the recommendations.


Australian financial regulators, including the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) have been crystal clear on the impacts and risks of climate change to the economy. These risks may be non-financial in nature, but all risks can have financial consequences.  ASIC recently updated their Regulatory Guide for the Operating and Financial Review (OFR) to highlight climate change as a systemic risk that could impact an entity’s financial prospects for future years and that it may need to be disclosed in an OFR.

In a joint bulletin issued by the AASB and AuASB, ‘Climate-related and other emerging risks disclosures: assessing financial statement materiality using AASB/AuASB Practice Statement 2’, the two Australian bodies address climate-related and other emerging risk disclosures in the context of financial statement materiality.

The proposed 4th edition of the ASX Corporate Governance Council’s Principles and Recommendations notes that greater guidance on disclosure of carbon risk is required as boards are increasingly being called upon to address new or emerging issues which include sustainability and climate change.

It has been suggested that if entities believe that they don’t have any material exposure to environmental and social risks that they carefully consider the basis for their belief and benchmark against their peers.

Climate squarely in the domain of accountants

Investor statements have indicated the importance of climate-related risks to their decision making.

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New Zealand

The Government recently affirmed its support for the disclosure of material financial risks and opportunities associated with climate change and endorsed the Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosures’ recommendations as one avenue for this. The Government is also considering mandatory climate-related disclosure requirements and is expected to consult with stakeholders in due course.

The climate crisis and the year ahead

As we face 2021, Senior Policy Advocate Lydia Tsen CA asks: What could we take away from a year drenched in uncertainty? She says collective action is the only appropriate response to a crisis and climate change is not different.

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Call to action

Fourteen accounting bodies representing 2.5 million accountants globally, including Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, have supported a call to action in response to climate change.

Climate related risks webinar

Learn more about the significance of climate related risks and new recommendations for financial disclosures in this free recorded webinar.

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Accountants and the path to a zero carbon economy

CA ANZ has joined 13 other accounting bodies globally supporting a Call to Action on Climate Change.

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Get up to date with Chartered Accountants ANZ’s most recent advocacy efforts on climate change and sustainability.

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Visit the Library

Browse our catalogue of books, journals and articles related to Climate Change Risk

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How do you think you can make a real impact on climate change?

Join the climate change conversation, and let your fellow members understand the power they hold.

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