Navigating Global Sustainability Standards: How CPAs Drive Better Emissions Targets for Businesses

As global leaders grapple with the reality that the current approach to cutting emissions isn’t working, Chartered Professional Accountants (CPAs) can help build capacity around a global baseline that could help get the global economy back on track
CPA Canada was recently named a Capacity-Building Partner by the International Sustainability Standards Board.

Global attention has never been more focused on the need for better planning on how to cut carbon emissions. A Global Stocktake report, released ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) meeting of global leaders in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, found national climate action plans are failing to meaningfully reduce emissions, and called on governments to not only agree on stronger climate actions but also to start showing how to deliver them.

And that’s why global sustainability standards are so crucial.

A new global baseline

This year, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB)released its first two disclosure standards, paving the way for a framework that enables the global business community to disclose comparable material information on exposure to sustainability and climate-related risks and opportunities.

This global baseline could be a game-changer for sustainability reporting.

Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada was recently named an ISSB Capacity-Building Partner, highlighting how CPAs will be instrumental in helping navigate the new world of sustainability reporting.

This recognition couldn’t come at a more important time: CPA Canada’s CEO Pamela Steer is attending COP28 to ensure the perspectives of Canadian CPAs are part of climate target discussions.

CPAs play a critical role in the capital markets, ensuring organizations report relevant and trustworthy information. This responsibility is now extending to sustainability reporting.

Pamela Steer is CPA Canada’s President and CEO

A need for consistency

While there has been an investor push for business leaders to embrace responsible, sustainable practices within their organizations, there has been no consensus on the information that should be collected and how, leaving the space cluttered with various ways to report risks, metrics and targets. Comparability, scalability and transparency have suffered as a result.

“Right now, sustainability reporting is often hit and miss—and, worse, potentially misleading due to the multitude of voluntary frameworks,” says Pamela Steer, president and CEO of CPA Canada. “Fortunately, substantive progress has been made to bring much-needed transparency and consistency to sustainability standard-setting with the creation of a global baseline in new sustainability standards.”

The successful implementation of the new standards will require collaboration and the sharing of resources across the business community. CPA Canada offers research and guidance to help Canadian CPAs support their businesses in building capacity to enhance confidence in sustainability reporting.

How CPAs can make a difference

CPA Canada is helping to equip CPAs and business leaders with the skills to build capacity around these new game-changing reporting requirements, with programming such as our Sustainability and ESG Certificate.

“The reporting landscape is changing,” says Matthew Oliver, manager, external reporting at Saskatchewan-based Nutrien, one of the largest producers of fertilizer in the world. “The ESG Certificate from CPA Canada will help CPAs lead the way.”

Sustainability is a lens that will help organizations achieve more strategic foresight, but it’s important to recognize that not all companies are starting from the same place. As experts in this field, Canada’s CPAs will be pivotal in helping organizations—from global operators to small start-ups—understand the impact of sustainability reporting on their business models and operations.

“CPAs bring a host of valuable skills to the table when it comes to successful decision-making in a world overloaded with data,” says Steer. “In fact, our profession has a proven history of providing the analysis, reporting and assurance necessary to evaluate performance and manage risk. Now, we can apply those skills to help tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time.”

Visit to learn about how CPAs can support businesses with sustainability disclosure. Take a step in future-proofing your career and your business with the Sustainability and ESG Certificate.