INSIGHT

Climate change and the people factor

Why net zero needs the people factor to succeed

C-suite executives and board directors have set ambitious net zero targets, but translating ambition to action will need investments in human capital.

Climate change is expected to affect every facet of the global economy and the transition to a low-carbon economy will likely result in substantial changes in the way companies do business. Those fluctuations will likely impact employees and disrupt labor markets, whose effects could ripple through the communities where they live. The wholescale transformation of business models in the timescales we are facing will likely require much more than just the right skills and expertise. Every employee has a role to play in the transition to net zero.

The latest survey report by Eversheds Sutherland and KPMG explores how employees are factored into companies’ decarbonization plan. Drawing on the perspectives of 1,095 global leaders and interviews with leading voices on climate change, the results indicate a potential gap between their net zero goals and the strategies and talent in place to achieve them.

Several important themes emerged from the survey and interviews:


49%

Only 49% have clearly defined decarbonization plan in place.

Only 49% have clearly defined decarbonization plan in place.

74%

74% believe they have the climate knowledge, resources, skills, and expertise to develop and deliver on their current decarbonization plans.

74% believe they have the climate knowledge, resources, skills, and expertise to develop and deliver on their current decarbonization plans.

64%

64% feel accountable for climate-related impacts on environment and communities where their company operates.

64% feel accountable for climate-related impacts on environment and communities where their company operates.



Almost half foresee high levels of employee resistance to the significant business model changes that will be required to achieve net zero targets.*

 

Thirty percent expect some positions will become redundant in a low-carbon environment.*

 

More than 3 in 10 anticipate some adverse impact from corporate decarbonization efforts on employees, while also believing employees can be retrained and upskilled.*

* Source: 2021 Eversheds Sutherland and KPMG Climate Change and the people factor

 

The findings demonstrate that human capital plays an important and complex role in the decarbonization story for companies.

Having sufficient capital, the right policy environment, and the right technology solutions are not enough to effectively fight against climate change. For all the various climate commitments corporations have made, they will find it challenging—if not impossible—to reach their goals without taking human capital action properly into account.

With the right incentives and resources, individuals have the power to help their companies achieve net zero and contribute to the global effort to fight climate impact.

 

Climate change and the people factor

Why net zero needs the people factor to succeed

There is still much work to do in building a greener economy. The companies that embrace innovation, commit to the necessary upfront investments in upskilling the workforce, and remain flexible to meet future challenges will win in the market.
Rob Fisher, IMPACT and ESG National Leader, KPMG US

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Climate change presents complex problems that require collaboration and systemic action across geographies, sectors, and generations. KPMG firms are ready to help you tackle these problems and realize a sustainable and responsible future, together.

Rob Fisher

Rob Fisher

IMPACT and National Leader, KPMG US

+1 804-782-4226
Katherine Blue

Katherine Blue

IMPACT Advisory Leader, KPMG LLP

+1 404-222-7606
Maura Hodge

Maura Hodge

Partner, KPMG IMPACT Audit Leader, KPMG US

+1 803-606-8370
Brett Weaver

Brett Weaver

IMPACT, Tax Lead, KPMG US

+1 206-913-6697
Dean Bell

Dean Bell

Partner, Advisory, Accounting Advisory Services, KPMG US

+1 212-872-5527