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Sustainability & Climate Change Community

Highlights from the year and beyond

Author: Sarah Reay, Climate Change Executive, ICAEW

Published: 19 Nov 2021

Looking at the year gone and planning for 2022.

Collaborating on climate

Throughout this year, ICAEW has collaborated with countless organisations and professional bodies helping to tackle the climate crisis and support our membership in doing so. Earlier this year, we were one of the professional bodies who, together with the consultancy E3G, led on the development of a net-zero pan professional network, launched at London Climate Action Week 2021, the Professional Bodies Climate Action Charter (PBCAC). We recognise that many professional bodies are already working on climate action, but this cannot be solved alone or in silos. Change comes through collective action and a common purpose. The PBCAC offers a space to share knowledge, experience, and co-ordinate our efforts that will heighten our collective impact and drive forward the transition to a decarbonised economy.

ICAEW went carbon neutral in 2020 and we are delighted to join 13 other professional accountancy bodies from the Accounting for Sustainability’s Accounting Bodies Network in the Net Zero Commitment. As well as committing to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions ourselves we aim to both encourage and enable our membership to do the same. The signatories represent 2.5 million accountants globally.

Our carbon neutral journey was achieved through reducing emissions as well as offsetting. There is some controversy surrounding offsets, but it is a great way to have a positive effect on the community and the environment whilst working towards a net zero economy. One offsetting option can be found right on your doorstep through the Great North Bog project. This is an ambitious, large-scale peatland restoration initiative being developed by the North Pennines AONB Partnership, the Yorkshire Peat Partnership and the Moors for the Future Partnership. This massive restoration project was highlighted to us by Ark2030, who engage with businesses through their Corporate Sponsorship Programme to restore global ecosystems. The Great North Bog is one of these projects – the UK Government is providing 75% of the £200m required to repair the peatlands across the North of England. The remaining sum is hoped to be raised through Ark2030’s supporters.


The 26th Conference of the Parties was held this year in Glasgow and attracted world leaders, NGOs, businesses and the finance community to talk and negotiate on tackling the climate crisis, whilst promoting a just transition for all. Whilst some encouraging commitments were made, what will be the measure of success is how they are implemented and acted upon. We developed the COP26 and Climate Hub to provide you with inspiration, information, and practical resources to support the goals of COP26 and explore why it represents a critical time for the profession.

This year was the 9th Finance for the Future Awards, which ICAEW hosts in partnership with Deloitte and Accounting for Sustainability. The awards were held in both London and Glasgow, and online on 2 November, to coincide with COP26. This was the first time the awards were split across two venues and broadcast live so we could reach members locally and internationally. You can see a recording of the event, the welcome from HRH The Prince of Wales, and the winners videos here. The winners’ case studies will be live in December, so do be on the lookout for those exceptional stories.

Looking to the future

Following a year filled with sustainability events and content both internal and external, we now look at what 2022 has in store for the profession. Following your feedback, the outcomes of COP26 and the growing physical and transition risks that are increasing for businesses, our key focus for next year will be on adaptation and resilience. After COVID-19 shocked the economy, business resilience was pushed to the forefront of everyone’s minds. Just like the global health crisis, the climate crisis is currently impacting and will continue to impact how businesses grow in the future.