Companies ‘greenstalling’ due to fear of unfair scrutiny of climate efforts

29th February 2024


Large businesses across the world are avoiding climate action due to fear they will be called out for getting their work wrong, according to a new Carbon Trust report.

After surveying over 400 sustainability leaders from businesses in the UK, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Mexico, the researchers found that 26% are now 'greenstalling' because of this perceived fear.

In a new report, Carbon Trust also reveals that less than 50% of sustainability decision makers feel they have the organisational structure and leadership buy-in to deliver a transition plan and make the business case for net zero.

Growth plans are taking priority, despite the global economy moving towards net zero by 2050 at the latest, according to the findings.

Scope 3 emissions, which typically account for over 70% of business emissions, were also given as a reason for inaction, with prohibitive costs and the complexity of managing and measuring carbon footprints given as barriers for progress.

To stop “greenstalling”, the report urges businesses to refer to globally recognised best practices on net zero, including the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) Net Zero Guidelines.

“The best thing businesses can do is get started on that journey today by creating a credible transition plan and implementing it,” said Simon Retallack, director of the Carbon Trust’s Net Zero Intelligence Unit.

“Concerningly, our research reveals that many businesses just starting their climate journeys are caught in a state of paralysis on the best steps to take.

“It is critical that these businesses know that there is real consensus on corporate climate action, and the most important thing is to get started with credibility, honesty and transparency.”

To tackle scope 3 emissions effectively, the report recommends that large businesses take a hard line with suppliers who do not meet environmental expectations.

It also sets out a five-step vision for net zero-aligned business transformation, including completing a ‘climate compatibility checkpoint’ for business models, and ringfencing a percentage of revenue for investments in low-carbon solutions.

“The fossil fuel economy does not have a long-term future, so to survive and thrive, businesses need to decarbonise their value chains,” said Marta Iglesias, director at the Carbon Trust.

“This requires a fundamental and strategic assessment that goes well beyond optimising current operations and requires leadership, long-term vision, commitment, and calculated risk-taking.

“Leading businesses have a clear opportunity to identify and exploit the opportunities that the transition towards net zero brings about for them.”

Learn more about overcoming these challenges by reading IEMA's blueprint for green workforce transformation

Image credit: Shutterstock

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