The International Accounting Standards Board has deferred a decision on the fate of its proposed climate-change reporting project until next month.
Board members told the 22 March meeting they needed more information about the scope or content of the seven projects on a staff shortlist before they were willing to take a final vote.
IASB member Ana Tarca said: “[W]e haven’t got all the details. What’s the climate-related risk [project] going to look like? I don’t know. So does my hand go up or down? I think that is really the essence [of the issue].”
The shortlist of potential projects is currently made up of climate-related risks, cryptocurrencies, going concern disclosures, intangible assets, operating segments, pollutant-pricing mechanisms, and the statement of cash flows.
Despite the lack of immediate clarity on the out for the seven shortlisted projects, however, IASB chair Andreas Barckow noted “a clear consensus” among board members for tackling both intangible assets and the statement of cashflows.
In March 2021, the IFRS Foundation, the body which oversees the work of the IASB, sought public views on the shape of the board’s workplan for the next five years.
In total, 122 constituents responded with their individual priorities and preferences. From that feedback, staff drew up the shortlist of seven projects for the board to consider adding to its agenda.
Time and resource constraints on the part of both the board and its constituents mean it is unlikely the board will tackle all seven projects.
Staff also hinted at a reserve list for any shortlisted projects that do not evolve into fully active workstreams.
Meanwhile, although sustainability-related topics such as climate-change reporting have emerged has hot-button topics, they also throw up a number of unique challenges beyond the novel content of the issue.
IASB member Nick Anderson said there was not only an overlap between intangibles accounting and “the ‘S’ in ESG” but also with the work of the recently announced International Sustainability Standards Board.
He urged the two boards co-operate closely on the issue. His colleague on the board Bruce Mackenzie added that it was essential for the two boards to work together.
He said it made no sense for the two boards to address climate reporting, for example “without the ISSB addressing some of the issues on their side”, because it could result in “a very disjointed process”.
The IASB is expected to resume discussions on the future shape of its work plan at its April meeting.