It is painful but true: The world is not on track to meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C goal and prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, global temperature rise will exceed 1.5°C during the 2030s unless significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions in line with a net zero pathway begin immediately. Other experts, like the British Weather Service, predict this will happen in at least one of the next five years. Coupled with the United States’ federal climate action vacillation, it is clear that countries can do more to mitigate climate change. Nevertheless, countries are only one piece of the global net zero puzzle. Companies also have a central role to play.

The corporate net zero landscape is rapidly changing due to the urgency of the climate crisis – along with stakeholder pressure, regulatory developments, and an era of hyper-transparency. As a result, climate leadership and action have become business imperatives, motivating companies worldwide to set net zero goals. Over 5,000 companies have pledged to reach net zero emissions through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Race to Zero Campaign, and 1,500 of these companies have committed to set a net zero goal aligned with a 1.5°C future.

While corporate climate goals are increasingly common, there remains a tremendous gap between rhetoric and action. Accelerating climate change impacts have many stakeholders demanding that companies close this gap by going beyond goal-setting to develop defined and realistic pathways to achieve their targets.

ERM and EDF+Business conducted interviews and a survey to understand the obstacles companies face when pursuing their climate goals and the catalysts that might help to overcome them. Conducted in the fall of 2021, the research finds that numerous internal and external obstacles stand in the way of companies achieving their climate goals.

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