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Resources collection

A collection of resources from ICAEW, and views from other stakeholders, on issues relating to sustainability, the profession and the wider community.

An overview of NAO’s sustainability reports

The National Audit Office publishes a wide range of reports and below is a summary of some of their recent work on climate and the environment.

Achieving net zero

This report covers the scale of the challenge to achieve the net zero target and the roles and responsibilities for achieving net zero within government. It also looks into the coordination arrangements that bring together the different government departments involved in achieving net zero as well as the risks that need to be managed.

December 2020, (NAO) report

Environmental tax measures

There is some evidence of the positive impact that taxes can have on the environment, but too little is known about their effect. The exchequer departments tend to focus more on the revenue that environmental taxes raise rather than the environmental impact they achieve. How taxes impact behaviour and how the UK’s transition to net zero is funded are very important – taxes are one of the key tools in pursing the environmenFurthertal goals.

February 2021, (NAO) report

Reducing carbon emissions from cars

Despite the government having spent more than £1 billion over the past ten years to incentivise the take-up of ultra-low emissions cars, the carbon emissions from cars have not reduced in line with government’s initial expectations. This report looks at why.

February 2021, (NAO) report

Local Government and Net Zero in England

This report examines local government and the role it can play in achieving net zero. The report concludes that there are serious weaknesses in central government’s approach to working with local authorities on decarbonisation, stemming from a lack of clarity over their overall roles, piecemeal funding and diverse accountabilities. Local authorities must ensure that they have the right resources and skills in place for net zero, currently they don’t.

July 2021, (NAO) report

Climate change risk: A good practice guide for Audit and Risk Assurance Committees

This good practice guide looks at public sector specific risks and opportunities through the lens of the TCFD framework (Taskforce for Climate related Financial Disclosures).

August 2021, (NAO) insight

The Environmental Land Management scheme

The ELM scheme replaces EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) but will pay farmers for undertaking actions to improve the environment. This project has been marred in controversy with some arguing it is not doing enough to protect nature and others saying it won’t provide food security. The report points to a lack of objectives as well as Defra’s short-term approach.

September 2021, (NAO) report

Planting trees in England

The government set itself an ambitious tree planting program with the aim being to cover 7,500 hectares a year by 2025. Whilst DEFRA has worked quickly to launch new grant schemes and partnerships, the planting of trees looks set to be well short of what they set out to achieve. This report looks at likelihood of success and what risks need to be managed.

March 2022, (NAO) report

Briefing for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee: Climate change adaptation

A briefing paper that sets out how the government is organised and the role of Defra in fulfilling its lead responsibility for climate change adaptation policy. The briefing contains a summary of progress on adaptation and how it can be improved as well as some case studies on some of Defra’s main adaptation policies.

February 2022, (NAO) briefing

Environmental compliance and enforcement

This briefing gives a factual overview of the framework for environmental compliance and enforcement in England. it covers the governments overarching environmental objectives and targets and how they are measured; the roles and responsibilities of various government bodies and how environmental compliance is defined.

May 2022, (NAO) briefing

Measuring and reporting public sector greenhouse gas emissions

Central government organisations are required to report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as part of the Greening Government Commitments framework. Whilst GHG emissions reporting has improved over the past decade, inconsistencies remain about which bodies are in scope and which are out of scope . The NHS and schools are not included for example. There are also questions around compliance and whether government organisations are using the emission data to inform future planning.

June 2022, (NAO) report

Decarbonising the power sector

Decarbonising power is the backbone of the government’s plan to achieve net zero. Although power sector emissions have reduced significantly over the past three decades, the government cannot be complacent about the challenges involved in decarbonising further while continuing to ensure a secure supply that meets the predicted electricity demand increases.

March 2023, (NAO) report

Further resources relating to sustainability, the profession and the wider community

So what is economic success? Going beyond GDP and profit

This thought leadership project explores what we mean by economic success. It considers the role that GDP and profit play in this, and the potential for broader measures of economic success to help us balance our economic priorities, our social goals and the constraints imposed on us by the natural environment we live in.

Outside Insights: How might we implement a citizen's income?

November 2016, Malcolm Torry

Basic income is a subject that is being discussed in many different spaces these days. This opinion piece by Dr Malcolm Torry, Director of Citizen’s Income Trust, explores four different methods of implementation for a basic income. It is a publication in our Outside Insights series, which gives a platform to alternative opinions.

Outside Insights: Quantifying natural and social capital

November 2015, Adrian Henriques

As businesses and organisations acknowledge the deteriorating state of the natural world and society, they are beginning to quantify natural and social capital to assess their wider impacts. Adrian Henriques provides an interesting discussion into both the use and potential problems of this process, and lays out some guidelines of good practice to ensure that any quantification is carried out in an appropriate way.

Outside Insights: Who should value nature?

December 2014, Dario Kenner

Much of the focus today is on how business quantifies its impact and dependency on nature and within that whether valuation is an appropriate approach.  Dario Kenner, of Why Green Economy?, brings a refreshing new perspective by asking who should value nature because this will ultimately determine how and why it is done.

This publication was launched at Rethinking Capitals: going beyond the financial

Outside Insights: Mapping the Global Transition to the Solar Age

February 2014, Hazel Henderson

In this thought provoking and agenda-setting publication, co-published with Tomorrow’s Company, Hazel Henderson offers a new solution to obsolete frameworks. She advocates a transition to a ‘solar age’ as a pathway to a more green and sustainable economic future.

Outside Insights: Of Markets and Men

July 2012, James Featherby

James Featherby raises thought provoking points about how finance has come to reflect Western thinking that is increasingly individualistic, reductionist, utilitarian, controlling and pragmatic and has set out key principles to change this.

Outside Insights: Beyond Accounting

November 2009, Graham Hubbard

This briefing highlights significant questions that need answers before sustainability reporting gains broad-based acceptance. Who are the target audiences for sustainability reports? How do sustainability reports link to strategy? Can they be comparable across organisations and, perhaps most importantly, what is the impact of sustainability reporting on business practice?

Outside Insights: Qualitative Growth

October 2009, Hazel Henderson and Fritjof Capra

In this thought piece by Fritjof Capra and Hazel Henderson, co-published with Tomorrow’s Company, GDP is questioned as a good measure for growth. It offers a conceptual framework for finding solutions to our current economic crisis that are economically sound, ecologically sustainable, and socially just.

Outside Insights: Competitiveness and Sustainability

October 2008, David Bent

Some business people still think that sustainable business initiatives are just distractions from the real social responsibility of business: making profit. They worry that being ‘socially responsible’ will harm the company’s bottom-line edge and damage the nation’s competitiveness. In this report, David Bent asks if and how environmental issues can be tackled in ways that enhance competitiveness.

Keywords: Building a language of systems change

This publication followed a two-day gathering of the UK’s leading systems entrepreneurs in November 2014 at the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. The workshop was designed to help build the lexicon of systems change as a practice.

Sustainability: The Role of Accountants

This report identifies a number of mechanisms by which sustainability may be enhanced and describes the contributions that professionally qualified accountants can make to their effectiveness.

Accounting for Sustainability Summit

Speech to welcome Mark Carney

Welcome speech given by ICAEW Chief Executive Michael Izza to Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, at the Accounting 4 Sustainability summit on 16 November 2016.