The first report in our From Promise to Action on Net Zero series

From Promise to Action is a series of research reports, interviews with senior executives at multinational corporations, and events exploring how companies are translating net zero emissions goals into practice.

It is designed to help corporate leaders understand how to set and achieve the kind of ambitious carbon reduction targets necessary to keep global warming below 1.5°C as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Several factors account for the growing urgency with which the private sector has been approaching climate change: 

  • Growing awareness of climate risk, with climate change increasingly recognized, including by investors, as the number one threat facing the planet.
  • Rapidly changing policies, with a growing number of national and regional governments enacting regulations intended to help decarbonize the economy.
  • Recognition of the economic opportunities presented by the low carbon economy transition.
  • Reputational considerations shaped by changing expectations among consumers, employees, and the general public.
  • Risk of litigation for climate-related damages from companies.

Our report details 5 essential steps decision makers must take:

  1. Measure your footprint: Understanding Scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is the critical first step for all companies.
  2. Set a net zero goal with clear interim targets: Setting a clear target using an established methodology defines the company’s ambition and provides a framework for delivery.
  3. Reduce energy use: Often overlooked, energy use and efficiency initiatives are effective ways for businesses to reduce their footprint and save money.
  4. Switch to low carbon energy: Switching to renewable energy sources is at the heart of low carbon transition and lets companies help shape the future energy markets.
  5. Pursue carbon removal solutions: For most companies, achieving net zero will require taking advantage of carbon removal technologies including carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) and nature-based solutions.

The magnitude of decarbonizing the global economy cannot be underestimated, and every participating institution will face challenges along the way. This report briefly discusses some of the difficulties that companies are encountering including challenges related to government policy, internal mobilization, and collaboration. It also explores some steps that leaders are taking to overcome the obstacles faced.

We will continue to provide further insights and practical guidance to companies on delivering net zero through future interviews and forums, and in other publications in the From Promise to Action series.