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Editor's note

By Sumita Shah

Last month was the UN Climate Action Summit. This highlighted just how much is going on around the world to raise awareness of the need to tackle climate change. In this edition of the newsletter, we provide some articles and links to expert views on climate change, public sector pensions, our latest Fiscal Insight into the recent Spending Review and we hear from some newly qualifieds who work in the public sector about the benefits of the ICAEW qualification for those working in the public sector. 

Decarbonising the public sector

The Treasury Committee recently launched an inquiry into the decarbonisation of the UK Economy and Green Finance which ICAEW responded to. The Committee asked some good and pertinent questions about the role of HM Treasury, regulators and financial service firms in supporting the Government’s climate change commitments.

We know that climate change is one of the most important aspects of today’s lifestyle – our future and that of future generations is dependent on how we handle these huge issues. Climate change is on the agenda of most progressive governments.

In preparing our response, we sought the views of some of our members in business who work across all sectors and regions, and our international members. We raised the issues of the economic benefits and costs of decarbonisation, how to deliver a decarbonised economy in a regionally just and fair way, and the role of the accountancy profession in a successful transition to zero carbon. We also gave examples in our submission to illustrate what specific steps members are taking to combat climate change, decarbonise their activities and take advantage of the opportunities that the new economy could bring.

Earlier this month, we explored, through a webinar, Decarbonising the Public Sector, the role of the public sector and in particular public sector finance professionals in what they can do in handling these issues and how they can do it. The discussion stressed that climate change is not just about measuring carbon emissions and that we all need to go beyond. If you haven’t already watched it, then do take a little bit of time to view it as there is some good information there. 

In this issue, Paul Pritchard, an Independent Sustainability Adviser from Iken Associates, in his article suggests that critical review and challenge is more necessary than ever. He suggests that we need to look across sectors / disciplines and functions and what the best practice is and what the role is for accountants in the public and private sector to, not only avoid reinventing the wheel, but that ensuring proper choices are made between emerging techniques for integration into mainstream management and disclosure.

Mardi McBrien, Managing Director, Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB), highlights the role of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) in driving forward discussions regarding the issue of climate change to boardrooms globally. She highlights how climate change is now understood to be a risk to many sectors but that the current state of disclosure remains insufficient. She suggests that there needs to be a shift from voluntary adoption of the TCFD recommendations to mandatory climate-related disclosure across multiple jurisdictions with climate-related information incorporated into the mainstream reports. Indeed, the UK Government is setting out its expectation for all listed companies and large asset owners to disclose in line with the TCFD recommendations by 2022. Read Mardi’s article to learn more. 

ICAEW has some wonderful resources on climate change to raise awareness of the impact climate change is having on humanity and business, along with exploring how businesses need to adapt to manage risks and take advantage of opportunities. Have a browse on our Climate Hub and watch the videos produced by ICAEW and Deloitte

Other public sector related news

Public Sector Pensions

Henning Dierderichs provides a technical view on Public Sector Pensions and the recent ruling by the Court of Appeal that the transitional protections put into place by the Government (to enable those ‘closest to retirement’ to remain in their existing schemes either until retirement, or for a limited period, depending on their date of birth) gave rise to unlawful discrimination.

Fiscal Analysis of the latest Spending Review

Martin Wheatcroft analyses the effect of the Chancellor’s plans for departmental spending in 2020-21 in the Spending Round 2019 on the public finances and what this means for public services. 

What the ACA brings to the public sector: in the words of Civil Service Fast Streamers

Finally, we hear from Steve Thomas, and his colleagues Sophie Denton, Matthew Ruddock and Alex Fullerton who share the benefits of studying the ACA whilst working in the public sector after they successfully qualified as ACAs in July 2019. They also outline the benefits of having a counsellor supporting them throughout their studies. Congratulations to you all, we look forward to seeing and hearing more from you as your careers progress.