First it was Sarbanes-Oxley. Now it looks like accountants will find that carbon trading a license to print money. Earlier this week, we had reports that the Big Four accounting firms are beefing their expertise and setting up climate desks for their clients which include high polluting oil and gas producers, electricity generators, chemical makers and heavy manufacturers.

As CFO.com explains, carbon disclosures and trade will open an entirely new market. The US Government will be either auctioning off or handing out allowances to allow companies to spew out their greenhouse gas emissions. Potentially, that could create entirely new revenue streams. Consider for example a company that close older plants, switch to low-carbon electric generation, or ramp up efficiency efforts. They'll end up with a surplus of permits that they could sell on the market. We will see independent exchanges set up to facilitate the trade in permits. Alternatively, there will be financial penalties that produce more greenhouse gas emissions than permitted.

What all this means is that investors will demand more information because all this will have an impact on their results.

The role of chief financial officer is about to change and accounting teams will be busier than ever. Accountants are looking at another bonanza. This could be bigger than Sarbanes-Oxley.


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