Where is the world of professionals going?

Relevance and Professional Associations in 2026 NEW ACADEMIC PUBLICATION Available September 2016

Latest edition of the Academic Leadership Series, an annual publication produced by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

THIS YEAR’S VOLUME, PUBLISHED IN CONJUNCTION WITH RMIT UNIVERSITY, IS THE SEVENTH IN THE SERIES. FOCUSING ON KEY ISSUES FOR BUSINESS AND SOCIETY IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND, THE WORK IS A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ACADEMICS, POLICY MAKERS AND PRACTITIONERS.

Background

With their traditional model under threat from the rapid development of communication technology and the rise of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and Instagram, what is the role of professional associations in the future? Traditionally formed to establish the legitimacy of members within a specialised professional field (e.g., accounting, law, medicine and engineering), the benefits from belonging to a professional association include career opportunities, grants, professional development and lifelong learning, advocacy and social networks. But now many of these activities are being undertaken outside their sphere of influence. Not only are professional associations under threat – but the very professions they represent are at risk from the disruptive forces of globalisation, automation and technology.

Professions need to adapt and innovate to avoid the risk of becoming irrelevant. These are the significant issues facing the contemporary professional association. This publication discusses and debates the forces that will impact the professions in the future. With contributions from academics, policy makers and practitioners, it explores how the traditional and highly valued role of professional associations is being disrupted and how associations that resist change will be bypassed and transcended. It also outlines how these forces also bring opportunity for professional associations. In a world in which information for decision making is provided in a smarter, efficient and more accurate way professionals are experts and trusted advisors not only to those they advise but also to communities and society.

In their capacity to educate, innovate, solve problems and advocate for the public interest professional associations may, in fact, be more relevant than ever. This publication provides analysis and context as a catalyst for deeper discussion.

At Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand we are committed to contributing to what should be a global conversation about how to meet these future challenges.

Find out more at charteredaccountantsanz.com/academics

CONTENTS

  • Professional Associations – Past Contributions, Present tensions and Future Opportunities. Roger Burritt, James Guthrie and Elaine Evans

PART A: CONTEXT

  • Relevance and the Future of Professional Associations Ross Dawson Historical Patterns and the Inevitable Decline of Professional Associations. Göran Roos
  • Relevance and Professional Associations in 2026: Towards a New Role for Thought Leadership. Geoffrey Stokes
  • The Future of the Legal Profession. George Beaton and Ben Farrow

PART B: EDUCATION ISSUES

  • The Role and Nature of Professional Development Education in the Future. Jason Dale
  • Accreditation, Professional Associations, and Higher Education: Foundations for Future Relations. Mark Freeman and Elaine Evans

PART C: PRACTITIONERS’ PERSPECTIVES

  • Future Tensions in Professional Associations. Sarah Davidson
  • Accounting: A Survival Guide. Ken Stephens

PART D: SPECIFIC ISSUES

  • Professional Accounting Bodies: Scoping Options for Sustainability. Katherine Christ and Roger Burritt
  • Modern Professional Practice and its Future: An Overview. Sharon Winocur

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Earlier volumes in the Academic Leadership Series can be found at http://www.charteredaccountants.com.au/News-Media/Reports-and-insights/Academic-leadership-series.aspx

Publications in our academic leadership series are designed to provide fresh insights and open dialogue on a range of evolving topics and issues. The articles are aimed at both an academic and practitioner audience and are peer reviewed.

  • Future Proofing the Profession

Edited by Elaine Evans, Roger Burritt and James Guthrie, 2015.

Future Proofing the Profession (PDF 1MB)

Just as the industrial revolution changed the world forever in the 18th and 19th centuries, we are now facing a period of significant transformation, likely to be characterised by both amazing new possibilities and seismic shifts in the way our national economies function.

These changes impact society in a way not often contemplated. That manufacturing and blue collar jobs will be significantly impacted is widely accepted, but automation and advances in computer software will also displace white collar jobs, including those in the business, financial and accounting worlds. Social adjustment to this polarisation of work is occurring globally and is met with mixed reception in different parts of the world.

This publication provides analysis and context to an issue that needs to be discussed with more depth. With contributions from professional accounting bodies, practitioners and accounting academics this sixth volume in the series examines the challenges and opportunities the futures presents for Australia and New Zealand.

  • The Accounting Profession’s Engagement with Asia

Edited by Elaine Evans, Roger Burritt and James Guthrie, 2014.

The Accounting Profession’s Engagement with Asia (PDF 1.5 MB)

Asia is a vast cultural region, known for its economic, political and social contrasts. What is the role of the accounting profession in Asia’s emerging markets?

The articles in this latest publication discuss the opportunities and challenges for Australia and New Zealand in developing closer ties with the region in business, education and practice. Including contributions from leading national and international academics and policy makers, it covers the accounting profession’s competitiveness in the Asian market and how Australian universities can respond to economic growth in Asian countries.

  • The Virtual University: Impact on Australian Accounting and Business Education

Edited by Elaine Evans, Roger Burritt and James Guthrie, 2013.

The Virtual University: Impact on Australian Accounting and Business Education (PDF 2MB)

Technology is changing the higher education landscape, just as it has changed music, newspapers, retail and book publishing. The rise of online learning offerings, in particular massive open online courses, is putting the onus on tertiary educators to adapt to the changing market. What impact will this have on the future of business and accounting education?

The articles in this volume offer insights into the subject of the virtual university, a field that is very new in research literature, from the perspective of a range of contributors from industries such as IT and publishing, professional bodies, industry groups and from those in the higher education sector.

  • Emerging pathways for the next generation of accountants

Edited by Elaine Evans, Roger Burritt and James Guthrie, 2012.

Emerging pathways for the next generation of accountants (PDF 2MB)

How are education pathways for entry into the accounting profession changing? How are globalisation and new technologies, along with new social and environmental issues, impacting these pathways? And, what can our next generation of graduate entrants expect as accounting roles become increasingly varied and diverse?

Each chapter provides fresh insights from professional accounting bodies, practitioners and accounting academics as they openly explore and debate the changing role, education pathways and future needs of professional accountants in an Australian context. Of note, the recurring issue of quality and strategies for upholding the highest standards in accounting education is a shared priority among all contributors.

  • Bridging the Gap between Academic Accounting Research and Professional Practice

Edited by Elaine Evans, Roger Burritt and James Guthrie, 2011

Bridging the Gap between Academic Accounting Research and Professional Practice (PDF 1MB)

Why is academic accounting research still lacking impact and relevance? Why is it considered so detached and worlds apart from practice and society? These and many more questions are tackled in this new publication commissioned by the Institute and the Centre for Accounting, Governance and Sustainability (CAGS) in the School of Commerce at the University of South Australia.

Each chapter provides fresh insights from leading accounting academics, policy makers and practitioners. The book triggers a call for action, with contributors unanimously agreeing more collaboration is needed between all three elements that make up the accounting profession – researchers, policy makers and practitioners.

  • Accounting education at a crossroad in 2010

Edited by Elaine Evans, Roger Burritt and James Guthrie, 2010.

‘Accounting education at a crossroads in 2010’ (PDF 7MB)

The Institute has collaborated with the Centre for Accounting, Governance and Sustainability (CAGS) in the School of Commerce at the University of South Australia, to produce this publication. Each chapter examines key challenges facing the profession, including:

  • Staff shortages combined with the pressures of an ageing academic population
  • The changing skill-sets of accounting and the misalignment with employer expectations
  • The large classes in university business faculties now leading to undesirable, sub-optimal teaching and learning outcomes
  • The impact of alternative pathways to professional programs via private providers and vocational studies.

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Roger Burritt, 30 July 2016

 

Measure what matters?

Heather Jimaa in The Accountant on 16 July 2016 reviews a forum on Measure What Matters: a Framework for Action where HRH Prince Charles spoke with business about the vision for 2030 for measures to capture non-financial value.

The article is well worth a read as it highlights a number of recent happenings in sustainability facing business.

First, Measure What Matters is well institutionalised through the Green Economy Coalition (GEC) in partnership with the The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI).

Second, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are also being institutionalised through the multi-stakeholder forum with representatives from “government, business, finance and civil society” seeking action to achieve the goals.

Third, for real action to occur those concerned with metrics and measurement as a foundation for better management the forum is of special interest as it looks for ways to to measure progress within a sustainability framework. “Tim Haywood, group finance director and head of sustainability at Interserve, stressed the need for the accounting community to remove themselves from the idea that perfection in numbers is essential” because there are infinite SDG measures and too many variables in sustainability to have a complete mapping.  Spatial data is a key addition to the accounting mindset.

Fourth, management accountants and especially sustainability management accountants can take courage from the notion that conventional deterministic financial and non-financial reporting numbers are seen as less important. They have always known that predictions about alternative courses of action for future corporate investments and operations mindful of social, environmental and economic issues have always been uncertain, or probabilistic at best and perfect predictions are rare to come by.

Accountants do need to adapt to these new realities – or be left behind as new information technologies replace them.

Two events in September will give these ideas a close airing – the 20th EMAN Europe conference in Luneburg, Germany on Sustainability and Environmental Accounting and the EMAN Africa conference in Durban, South Africa. We hope to see you there.

Where is the GRI going?

Ralph Thurm provides an insightful Wrap Up of the GRI2016 Post Event and leaves us with questions about the future of sustainability (and integrated) reporting

Source: Toronto Sustainability, 27 May 2016

It’s the week after the GRI Conference, the week when we attendees all return to our desks and reflect what we heard and learned. Clearly, GRI has set important steps, has changed its strategy towards becoming a standard setter, and has entered the digital age in earnest, finally. And yes, it was the networking that was valuable and to me it felt like a family gathering. There is no doubt about that. But are we convinced? Is this the big next thing?

Let me take you on my personal journey, and note my background with GRI from 1998 onwards, including time as a GRI staff member from 2002 until 2008. I am probably one of the very few that have been actively involved in developing all 4 generations of the GRI Guidelines. My feelings about GRI come deep from the heart, I sometimes joke about GRI as being a child going through its childhood and puberty, and now leaving home to truly build a life on its own, exploring new relationships, independent from the family’s own past. I’d like to present my thoughts in three sections:

Atmospheric distortions

In the run up to the conference I spoke to many people that I suspected going to GRI’s conference. I learnt that many of them decided not to go this year. When asking why, the answers were quite mixed, but they addressed various issues, and this continued in conversations at the conference as well:

  • The glamour is gone: earlier conferences had highlights that were missing this time. GRI had Al Gore, Queen Rania of Jordan, Michael Porter and BBC news anchors in the past. Seems like these ‚sustainability celebrities’ are indeed attracting numbers of participants and GRI might have purposefully decided not to approach such people this time, for various (good) reasons.
  • GRI’s communication about the new strategy, the new GOLD model of participation, the ‚exclusive clubs’ (Leader’s Group, Technology Collaboration, certified GRI practitioner process) isn’t yet resonating well with many, taking into account that most reporting organizations are also part of minimally half a dozen and up to a dozen other initiatives and networks. It all becomes complicated and hard to follow. Many out there who I talked to were surprised not to be ‚Organizational Stakeholders’ any more.
  • A feeling of cold commercialization of what was supposed to be a community that embraced its members, involved its stakeholders for a common purpose (and I’m not even touching the pricing strategy for the conference, especially the huge amount of ‚exclusive’ sessions and to-be-paid-for masterclasses). The true multi-stakeholder nature has moved a bit into the background. A new set of standards is now presented to the world, designed by the GRI staff and the GSSB. ‚Hold on a minute’, I heard often: ‚wasn’t there a working group process designing this? There suddenly is a public comment period about something I wasn’t even aware would come?’ Of course, just restructuring G4 into a set of standards doesn’t need a full multi-stakeholder process I said, but it wasn’t clear to many and a sign that information overload takes its toll.
  • The notion that GRI’s conferences tend to lose focus on the reporting aspect. Many sessions are broad discussions about sustainability with little rigor or facilitator focus to bring it back to reporting and/or disclosure, at least at the end of the sessions. Is it helpful to have sessions about who to trust more (governments or NGOs or corporations) when all of them have a role to play in adding and consuming data? While I thought this year’s conference was more focused when looking at the session’s titles, the discussions themselves often remained less focused.

Is GRI losing it’s soul? Or perhaps, could it be more like a child going through its childhood and puberty, and now leaving home to truly build a life on its own?

Summing up this part, the words of a former high level representative of GRI’s governance bodies still rings in my ears, saying ‚GRI is losing its soul!’. Indeed, some say GRI starts to copy/paste what SASB has been doing in past years, has a strong bias with financial market players (although hardly present at the conference), is very North America and Europe focused, and communicates less with its (former) community. My own experience is that there’s now at least as much talk in conferences why not to follow GRI any more as there is talk to position it in the overall reporting regime, including IIRC’s integrated reporting approach, SASB’s industry specific disclosures, the EU Directive’s requirements, the rating organization’s questionnaires and the requirements of stock exchanges. I think we are at the point where GRI’s growing number of younger staff starts to forget about the roots of the organization, where the different departments within GRI have their own means of communication and that indeed some ‚soul searching’ would be recommendable. If 1.200 participants (including 200 speakers and GRI staff) mean ¼ less participants at the confernce (noted by many), it points to some homework to be done in re-emphasizing the true purpose of GRI. To many it isn’t so clear any more, before and after the conference, at least for those who went.

Necessities

A lot of what GRI presented at the conference makes a lot of sense to me. The move from Guidelines to standards helps to generate a more constant work rhythm for the GRI Secretariat, creates the ability to make changes to individual standards, given the advances of science or technology, becoming more strict in defining requirements besides recommendations and guidance. This could strengthen stock exchange requirements, legal requirements, governance aspects, assurance processes and simply enhance additional clarity away from blurry descriptions. It would also hopefully reveal still existing greenwashing in reports.

The power of data is just at the beginning of an explosion.

GRI finally also moved into the world of digital technology and data. The Technology Consortium – as was announced at the conference – will be broadened through the‚ ‘Digital Reporting Alliance’, called to be the ‚vanguard of the next phase of sustainability reporting’. I agree with the need to ‚liberate’ data from pdf’s and use new technology to make the data available for everyone’s use. In the end, it’s the impact that data make, so the number of sustainability reports per se doesn’t really define the success of sustainability reporting. Rather, it’s the transformational capacity these data entail; it’s what the data reveals about those affected by corporate actions and how companies and their stakeholders alike can use these data to drive such transformation. This needs new approaches and open source platforms, like WikiRate, that have the ability to not only liberate data, but also to democratise the accuracy and use of data and put them into context through open data indicator development. It holds the power that an emission scandal like Volkswagen could be detected before it actually goes through the roof. eRevalue, a narrative screening‚ ‘vacuum cleaner’ data service has shown that disclosure of emission data has gone down in the majority of corporate sustainability reports of automotive companies in the last years, except Ford Motor Company. Look at what has come out over the last half year and who is now accused of using emission control software and who is not: Ford Motor Company is amongst the few in the latter category. The power of data is just at the beginning of an explosion, so GRI’s aim to support data liberation through partnerships is important. Various sessions during the conference focused on data and transparancy.

The uncovered to-do’s

GRI’s conference took place at an important moment in time. After COP21 in Paris and all the follow-up happening to get countries adopting the agreement, and after the SDGs got accepted and are now waiting for the processes to best implement them internationally and country-by-country, GRI looked at these from the perspective of making necessary links (GRI, WBCSD and UN GC already published the SDG Compass last year). Of course GRI was also involved in the preparations of both these events, within the limit of its mandate. These themes were of course captured in important sessions at the conference.

There are no data and benchmarks that would aim to describe the organizational transformation and socio-cultural leadership capabilities.

But what struck me most was what was not discussed, and given the fact that about 90% of the global multinationals are still not reporting on their sustainability achievements (partially based on the fact that a huge amount of these companies are privately held and still sneak out of mandatory reporting requirements), we are still far from mainstream. As the conference subtitle was ‘shaping reporting for the next 20 years’ GRI missed addressing a list of things that will have at least as much influence on the future success of GRI than the steps now taken. Here are my top 5:

  • As sustainability reporting sort of goes with the flow and – while mentioned in the Guidelines – chronically forgets about sustainability context, we remain at an incremental stage of disclosure. We are missing the benchmarks of getting closer to the real deal: disclosing when a company can call itself a ‘sustainable company’. While environmental ceilings and social floors are known, global footprints are defined up to local level, and more data about the condition of the world are available than company-internal data, the discussion around context was close to absent. Just a glimpse of that came up in a session about linking corporate data with national statistics data on the SDGs. I highly doubt that the national statistics offices will excite corporations to make the necessary data links and suddenly push innovation.
  • Redesigning dislosures based on a more capitals-based approach. The basic assumptiom of building accounts around a systemic contribution’ to society will need to answer the question about value creation. There isn’t any better litmus test than to disclose in how far financial capital has been built on the back of any other capital. This doesn’t mean total monetization of all capitals, but starting to discuss conventions and directions on how to count and account, working towards qualities such as the ‘Total Contribution’ concept of the Crown Estate in the UK. Realizing that net positive and gross positive approaches are possible beyond what is now seen as sustainable (doing no harm) seem to be so far away from mainstream that GRI doesn’t give these truly commendable approaches a stage. As such the needed collaboration with accountants – not very active in rethinking accounting from throughput to circular – isn’t a programmatic area of GRI, but will be the Achilles heel of the purpose of sustainability disclosure if it wants to stand the litmus test.
  • The word ‘innovation’ was high up on the agenda. The opening session carried a set of three innovative entrepreneurs (potentially none of them producing a sustainability report), that aimed to somehow make a sort of connection to innovation, but in the proceedings it boiled down to the forthcoming standards and data aspects that seemed to be the only real news in reporting. Of course, communication, XBRL (if ever used mandatory) and open source data can make a big difference, but it’s the combination with data that are not yet in GRI’s terrain that can empower stakeholdersto new qualities of dialog (at this moment often in a degenerating stage due to boring processes) that will potentially revitalize dialog, meaning empowering stakeholders to be well informed to talk to corporations at the same eye-level.
  • The systemic component of how to create a longer term roadmap involving macro, meso and micro level, defining a truly serving purpose of reporting, linked with innovations in accounting, data management and new business model reporting demands, was little to non existing. The conference emphasized once more the need to go beyond the reporting standard setting world to overcome the inherent problem of standard setting – a too short scope to be able to deliver on future-ready reporting. The Reporting 3.0 Platform, now in its 4th year of existence (reporting3.org), has recently announced the ‘Blueprint Projects’, a set of 4 projects that develop and cross-pollinate the different necessary constituencies in the reporting landscape: reporting (clarifying the principles and serving function of reporting that truly supports a green & inclusive economy), accounting (based on a multi-capitals approach), data (taking into account the internal and external data sources to deliver on the litmus test question of being sustainable), and new business models (and their demands to disclose in principal ‘handprint’). Will we be able to deliver on reporting ‘for the next 20 years’ without any of these areas fully embedded?
  • Lastly, are we actually asking the right questions? The predominant focus on ‘footprint’ isn’t exciting for the majority of companies on this planet. We totally forget forging ‘handprint’ information. Instead of not doing harm, doing good isn’t structured in sustainability reporting, so all reporters are asked to figure that out themselves. The new circular, sharing, collaborative businesses are bluntly absent from the disclosure through existing standards, but it would be them to learn most from. Also, there are no data and benchmarks that would aim to describe the organizational transformation capabilities and socio-cultural leadership capabilities of an organization, adding to the litmus test question described above. We’re not even touching the sustainability context gap in its totality, and we’re missing two major components of necessary disclosure (see the work of the ThriveAbility Foundation to learn more).

Summing up this last headline, GRI needs to of course balance the needs of the mainstream and take reporting organizations from where they are at to where they should be, but the conference didn’t deliver on a good sketch of ‘the next 20 years’, embedding the SDGs into disclosure and liberating the data seemed to be the maximum presentable to conference participants.

Overall, the conference didn’t deliver on a good sketch of ‘the next 20 years’. Do we have more time to wait?

Of course, one can argue that first things come first and that we are expecting too much. I know so very well from my own GRI past that ‘globally applicable and globally acceptable’ was and is the mantra for disclosure items to be added to GRI’s list. There will be another 5 GRI conferences until 2030 where more of this could be discussed, but do we have the time to wait? The absence of at least a statement of what’s still needed to deliver on the mission of GRI and a roadmap that offers a back-casting of the next steps for the next couple of years, concerned many of us at the conference. Now was the time to address and embed these necessary enhancements, but it seems we have to wait until the 2019 edition of the conference to add these points to the reporting matrix. The least we can do is to continue to work with GRI to show what is possible until then.

This article first appeared on Ralph Thurm’s personal website
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Ralph Thurm is a leading professional in sustainable innovation and strategy, operational sustainability, sustainability change management, sustainability reporting, and ThriveAbility. With more than 25 years experience working for major corporates, industry federations, governments, NGOs and advisory services globally, Ralph adds value as a consultant, trainer, facilitator, moderator and writer on a huge variety of sustainability topics.

Accountancy and the UN Sustainability Development Goals

The Head of Professional Accountants in Business and Integrated Reporting at the International Federation of Accountants,  Stathis Gould, says it is Time to Act.

In an article on their Knowledge Gateway entitled “Time to Act: The Accountancy Profession’s Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals” Stathis tries to awaken concern of accountants for one of the critical issues of the future affecting businesses – the challenges of sustainable development. These sustainable development dilemmas, include inequality and social challenges in the supply chain, climate change, poverty and other ethical and moral challenges.

Stathis argues “The role business plays in achieving the Goals is [as] critical as the role played by governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society, and philanthropies. Some of the problems the Goals address were caused by capital markets’ predominant focus on delivering short-term financial results, often at the expense of long-term societal and strategic risks. In addition, sustainable development challenges—including ethical challenges, such as corruption—largely arise from political and capital market failures.”

There are 17 “Sustainable Development Goals

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Which of these should we focus on first? This is a personal decision based on the individual contributions to action we feel we can make. Stathis singles out those highlighted in bold and italics above. But at core #1, # 2 and # 6, removing poverty, securing supplies of food and potable water and sanitation for people, could be at the heart of success with all the other goals secondary, including green energy, gender equality, and calming people willing to kill and maim others because of their own circumstances and beliefs. It will be of critical to see how academic and practitioner accountants take up these challenges in the years ahead by helping and advising their clients, particularly businesses.

Whatever your generation X, Y, BB, Z or Alpha (0-5 year olds), as an actual or potential accountant living through disruption to the current profession now is the time to turn or be turned 180 degrees to instead grasp the opportunities presented, through education, teaching, learning about and engaging with solutions to these fundamental Goals.

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Australia: Greenhouse gas emissions data available

On 26 February 2016 the Australian Clean Energy Regulator released the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) data for 2014-15.

Australian corporations that meet certain thresholds are required to report annually on their emissions and energy consumption to the Clean Energy Regulator.

While about 60 per cent of Australia’s total emissions are said to be reflected in the report, emissions from the agricultural, forestry, private vehicle transport and residential sectors are not collected.

NGER data show in 2014-15, corporations reported a total of:

  • 322 million tonnes of scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide equivalent)
  • 91 million tonnes of scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide equivalent), and
  • 5422 petajoules of net energy consumed.

The Clean Energy Regulator Report says “We have for the first time published additional data specific to the electricity sector for 2014-15. This will provide transparency and ensure industry are informed and well prepared for the introduction of the safeguard mechanism on 1 July 2016. Additional data includes primary fuel source, emissions intensity and grid connection for each electricity generator, in addition to aggregated scope 1 emissions for all grid connected generators.”

While the data collected is said to be a ‘rich and reliable data set’ it only reports Scopes 1 and 2 emissions. Scope 3 indirect emissions are not reported and for a trading nation such as Australia this leaves a big gap in transparency. See 2014-15 National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting highlights​  for more information. The figures can be readily calculated.

Will reporting be extended to Scope 3 in the near future?

The pressure on dirty carbon industries continues to mount and accountants need to make their clients aware of how they can push the boundaries in corporate greenhouse gas accounting. Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand comment “Australia’s top ten emitting corporations accounted for almost half of all reported emissions, and eight of these ten are electricity generators. Coal mining, oil and gas extraction and metal ore mining are the next highest contributing industries. Specific electricity data has been published for the first time revealing that almost half of our electricity production still comes from black coal with renewables comprising only 11%.” (Reporting and Assurance News 18 March 2016)

Perhaps global issues will have a greater impact on increasing transparency. The Paris Agreement on Climate Action and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals frame the agenda. But impending disruption to specific companies will make them sit up and take notice in the end. e.g. coal mining associated with the possible bankruptcy of the largest US coal miner, Peabody Energy, “…the global leader in clean coal solutions and advanced environmental excellence in coal mining and use” whose shares have lost 97 per cent in the past year.

Accountants have a vital role to play in developing solutions, working with industry, for the benefit of society, and pushing the measurement boundaries.

 

20th EMAN Conference: Two Decades of Corporate Environmental and Sustainability Accounting

Conference Call, CSM Germany- Come and join us 21-23 September 2016.

The Environmental and Sustainability Management Accounting Network (EMAN), in association with the Centre for Sustainability Management (CSM) at Leuphana University Lüneburg, is pleased to announce the 20th EMAN conference“Two Decades of Corporate Environmental and Sustainability Accounting – What has been achieved?”.

The conference will take place in the historic city of Lüneburg in Germany from 21-23 September 2016. This jubilee conference is designed to review, discuss and extend existing research on environmental, social and sustainability accounting, management, assessment, reporting and communication with scholars and practitioners.

 Researchers are invited to submit extended abstracts and practitioners are invited to submit their best practice cases. Deadline for submission is 20 May 2016 with notification of acceptance on 20 June 2016. Please visit the conference website for further details www.eman2016.org or contact the conference team in case of questions (info@eman2016.org).

EMAN 2016 Conference Organisation at the Centre for Sustainability Management (CSM)

Leuphana University Lüneburg

+49 (0)4131-677-1153

info@eman2016.org

www.eman2016.org

Or contact Roger.Burritt@mq.edu.au

Uncorking economic, environmental benefits of wine on tap

Roger Burritt and Katherine Christ, Macquarie University

Katherine Christ and Roger Burritt, Macquarie University

New retail technology is set to change the environmental credibility of the wine industry. Reports from Canada and Australia both indicate that kegged wine on tap will help reduce the environmental footprint of the wine industry as well as improve profitability.

Restaurants and bars can purchase their wine in bulk and sell an assortment of varieties by the glass to customers willing to pay in different price ranges. Initially, the bulk nature of wine on tap will likely attract sales of the lower end wine quality. In principle, however, there is no reason, other than current marketing strategies, whypremium wines could not also be sold on tap.

Wine drinkers can be a fussy lot; not surprising considering the romanticism that surrounds the winemaking tradition. Yet kegged wine is not the first innovation to break through the time-honoured mould of conventional practice. In 2000 the Yalumba Wine Company introduced screw tops to its premium Eden Valley Riesling, a move that was initially opposed by some market segments which associated the new closures with low quality. However, it is now well recognised that when packaged in this way wine will last better than in uncorked bottles. Thus the Australian wine industry has previously shown itself to be a leader in the development and rollout of new technology, so why is it not doing more now to promote kegged wine on tap?

Benefits of wine on tap

Roll out of tapped wine sold by the glass in restaurants and pubs has a number of advantages for the industry.

  • Wine on tap is stored in stainless steel kegs which can last 30 years, and plastic kegs or bags which can be recycled, thereby saving on bottling and the disposal of corks, caps, cardboard boxes, plastic packaging and pallets. Free Flow Wines, a company in Napa, California which offers 450 wines for sale throughout the U.S. on tap, claims in the last five years to have saved 4 million bottles from landfill. The company contends one 19.5L keg will eliminate 26 empty wine bottles, corks, labels and cardboard boxes from going to the landfill or being recycled.
  • Sommelier and labour time is reduced as the process of unpacking and decorking, is removed and pouring wine from a tap is easier and quicker, with less OH&S riskfrom broken glass bottles.
  • From a life cycle perspective the innovative wine tapping processes help prevent risksfrom UV rays, oxidation in the bottle once opened, cork taint and associated product wastage. In addition the carbon footprint of the wine industry can be reduced as transportation is more efficient. Reporter Christine Salins, for example,suggests twenty-four empty bottles weigh more than four times as much as an empty keg, and therefore have a much bigger carbon footprint.
  • Wine producers can obtain a more secure market as they can produce directly for restaurant chainswhich are benefiting from increased sales.
  • Economic benefits from the wine on tap process put expected savings at US$6a case, or 15 per cent. Core benefits stem from reduced distribution, labelling and transport costs. Such cost reduction could be shared with downstream customers who can obtain quality wine at a lower price, or with upstream producers who may be operating unprofitably which could help reduce regional unemployment, or simply retained by the restaurants
  • Less space is neededfor storage of wine, saving the precious working capital of small businesses.

Costs of tapping the wine

  • Labour time is needed to make sure that tap lines are regularly cleaned, otherwise the flavour of the wine can become tainted. Cleaning of pipes has to be meticulous.
  • With wine flowing from the tap directly from keg to glass the need for sommelier services is reduced as emphasis is placed on the customer who needs to know what wines they prefer.
  • In the supply chain wineries can get locked in to providing wine to wine on tap suppliers as middlemen and restaurants and pubs need to avoid problems of becoming tied houses as was common in the brewing industry.
  • Wine on tap can have a reputational cost. The quality of wine on tap needs to be assured as the market moves from using it for selling lower quality bulk winesto developing a reputation for high quality wines at a better price. Re-education would be needed for this to happen, something unlikely in Australia as the current focus for the industry is on increasing sales of bottled fine premium wines.
  • Wine on tap through restaurants and bars can be an additional outlet for Australian wines but, as with the initial failure to promote screw top closures, as Nuebling and Behnke argue marketingwill have a critical part to play if the innovation is to take hold.

While recognising the benefits of wine on tap it must be acknowledged this mode of product delivery will not be appropriate in all settings, nor will it remove the need for bottling or alternative forms of packaging (e.g. casks or tetra paks) in full. However, what kegged wine does represent is an opportunity for the restaurant and hospitality sector to work with the wine industry with a view to mutual economic and environmental benefit. This might also represent an opportunity for small and boutique wineries who may be struggling financially to work with local eateries to not only reduce costs, but also trade on the environmentally friendly and increasingly popular locavore foodie culture.

About the authors:

Dr Katherine Christ completed her PhD in 2015 with the University of South Australia and is currently employed as a Senior Research Assistant with Macquarie University and as a sessional Tutor with the University of South Australia. Katherine is passionate about engaging in research with potential to have impact in the real world. Her research interests include environmental management accounting, water accounting and sustainability in the global wine industry. Results of Katherine’s research have been widely disseminated via top academic journals, professional publications and at global conferences.

Roger Burritt is Professor in Accounting and Sustainability in the Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance at the Faculty of Business and Economics, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. His particular research interest is in environmental and sustainability management and accounting for decision making. Further information is available on his web site here.  Roger is joint co-ordinator of the Accounting for Sustainable Knowledge research network at Macquarie University. He has published widely and is a pragmatic academic, keen to see academic work translated into better practice. 

Rachel Alembakis

Publisher/Editor at The Sustainability Report

Rachel Alembakis has published The Sustainability Report since 2011. She has more than a decade of experience writing about institutional investments and pension funds for a variety of publications.