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Five steps to net zero (part one): build the right knowledge and insight

Tom Keohane

In part one of this two-part series, discover how to deliver real net zero progress by developing the right leadership capability and understanding the specific drivers of change for your organisation and sector.

The imperative for businesses to act on climate change and net zero is clear and well established. Not only is it the right thing to do for the environment, but it’s essential for future business success.

In many organisations, the responsibility for climate action and net zero used to sit with a specialist sustainability function to the side of the core business. In some organisations it still does.

Given the nature, magnitude and immediacy of the challenge, this is no longer sufficient (if it ever was). The transition to net zero needs to be at the very heart of your business strategy, not only in terms of how your business runs, but also how and where it competes and wins.

The Berkeley Partnership has partnered with not-for-profit organisation Chapter Zero to develop the Board Toolkit which proposes five key steps to help businesses rise to these challenges.


The Berkeley Partnership graphic showing a 5 stage strategy for achieving and embedding net zero in ESG transformation and sustainability transformation

1. Lead from a position of knowledge on net zero transition

Recent research found that 75% of board members believe that climate change is very or entirely important to the strategic success of their companies. In stark contrast, 85% said their board needs to increase its climate knowledge.

Board members don’t have to be climate experts, but they do need enough of an understanding to provide effective, well-informed leadership. An appropriate level of knowledge about climate change and the net zero transition should be a fundamental part of board and senior executive competency frameworks, and appropriately built into recruitment and development processes.

Boards and executive leadership teams also need ready access to specialist expertise to help inform strategic direction and monitor performance, so ensure you are appointing the right people and suppliers, with a proven track record, to provide that support. Key areas of expertise will include emissions measurement and target setting; opportunities for low carbon technologies and innovations in your sector; and climate change and net zero risk assessment.

2. Understand the drivers of change for net zero transition

As with all strategy development, it is vital to understand the key drivers of change for your sector and business. When defining your strategy for climate change and the net zero transition, the following key factors should be considered under a range of temperature scenarios over the short, medium and longer (i.e. 10+ year) timeframe.

Part two: setting your net zero strategy and making it happen

Strong leadership and a thorough understanding of the key drivers are crucial for net zero success, but they are only the first steps towards driving lasting change. Discover how to develop your strategy, deliver real change and remain responsive to developments in part two.