AUT News
More than 70 participants attended the ARA conference on 9 December 2020 at the City Campus in AUT. The keynote speakers were Hon James Shaw, Minister for Climate Change and Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley Massey University.
Consistent with the conference theme "Technology, sustainability and diversity: Transforming accounting", Hon James Shaw joined the conference via Zoom, satelliteing in from the Capitol. He spoke about the government's plans of leading the nation towards a high-tech post-carbon economy and society, Aotearoa's commitment to the Paris Agreement's goal to half our greenhouse gas and carbon emissions over the next 10 years, and parliament's drive to be net 0 (carbon neutral) by 2050.
So where do accountants fall into it all? "Climate change is driving an increasingly severe set of emergencies, such as floods, cyclones, wildfires, etc., that in turn create a financial strain on the country," says Mr Shaw. "New Zealand is going to be the first country in the world to require its accounting sector to report on climate risk requirements -- it will be a public service for industry to respond on an appropriate timeframe as we navigate how to address these very pressing issues." It is of utmost importance, he believes, that New Zealand lead the way. Building rating standards will become stricter, requiring a minimum of 4 stars for sustainability on old builds and 5 stars on new builds. Methane targets will be revised upon expert advice, agricultural emissions will be priced, and managed retreat from rising sea levels will be assessed.
Above all, he stressed, "as we move to mandatory climate risk reporting, we need capability. Get yourselves up to scratch so that you can teach and spread that knowledge, [training] the next generation of workers [from a] climate-friendly initiative to [a climate-friendly] reality."
Following this, Prof Spoonley shared his view about the demographic transformation and diversity in New Zealand. The two panellists, Ray Skinner and Danz Teira presented an interesting discussion relating to the theme of the conference as well.
ACCA, CPA Australia and CA ANZ were the sponsors for the conference and the best paper awards. In addition to the plenary speeches and the panel discussion, presenters from various New Zealand universities and some overseas universities presented their research papers at the conference. The papers were on topics relating to the conference themes and other areas of accounting that are of current relevance. After a long spell of online conferences under the Covid-19 restrictions, this was the first face-to-face conference, and it provided a welcome atmosphere for collegial interaction and discourse.
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