Our new report, ESG Strategies: Accelerating Impact and Net Zero Goals in Consultancy, provides a unique assessment of how the world’s major environmental & sustainability (E&S) consultants are responding to the rapidly evolving climate and ESG disclosure landscape, gauging their progress using sector-specific ratings criteria and industry carbon intensity benchmarks developed by our analyst team.
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Report rates consultancies on their climate and ESG impact and urges further action to maintain client, employee and investor trust
*****AECOM, BCG, Jacobs and WSP are five-star rated firms*****
Environment Analyst (www.home.environment-analyst.com, Shrewsbury, UK), the independent market intelligence partner and advisor to the global consulting and professional services industry, has published an assessment of how the world’s major environmental & sustainability (E&S) consultants are responding to the rapidly evolving climate and ESG disclosure landscape.
The report, ‘ESG Strategies: Accelerating Impact and Net Zero Goals in Consultancy’, finds that while the drivers and pressures for action are proliferating, some consultancies have been slow to respond – in spite of being on the front line when it comes to advising businesses and governments on how to engage. Others are leading in advancing the agenda, innovating solutions and making measurable progress that will ultimately benefit their clients and supply chains, as well as people, planet and society.
Environment Analyst developed a unique, stakeholder perception analysis and ratings system, assessing how fifty leading E&S consultancies (‘C50’) are reporting and acting on the climate and ESG imperative, based on their public disclosures and reports. Firms were scored against industry-specific carbon intensity benchmarks, as well as a range of other factors including their alignment to gold standard frameworks and initiatives – such as the SBTi, CDP, TCFD and UN Global Compact – and their net zero and sustainability goals, governance and progress.
Only four of the fifty consultancies achieved the top five-star rating across the Net Zero Journey and ESG Impact Leadership metrics: AECOM, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Jacobs and WSP. A further twenty firms were identified as ‘innovators’ – including the highest-scoring small (<2k full-time equivalent employees) and medium-sized (2-10k FTEs) consultancies: Anthesis, ERM, ICF, Ricardo and TRC (see figures).
"At Environment Analyst, we believe organisations in need of ESG and carbon advisory support will increasingly turn to those that have the expertise, the experience and have demonstrated leadership to do it first; those who have walked the talk," says Ross Griffiths, Environment Analyst Managing Director. "We also believe these firms offer investors a credible, low-risk option for their sustainable portfolios, while others still have further to go in their journeys."
"This industry, just as any other, must guard against greenwashing claims given the myriad of frameworks, standards and pledges being made, as well as ESG data limitations. This report highlights best practices and promotes real advancements being made by the consulting industry’s frontrunners and innovators who are living, breathing, and advising on the sustainable transition."
The report finds that 62% of the C50 firms have set science-based climate targets under the SBTi. However, only three of the companies have aligned to the higher-ambition SBTi Corporate Net Zero Standard to date, which requires faster and harder absolute emissions reductions.
The total carbon footprint for the C50 is estimated at 11.7 million tCO2e over the last reporting period (based on disclosures for FY21/FY22). This is equivalent to ~4.5 million return flights from London to Cape Town. Environment Analyst’s carbon accounting analysis found that there was a 15% rebound in the industry’s average emissions during the last year thanks to the post-pandemic return to normal working practices, but some firms were able to buck this trend through hardening business travel policies and other decarbonisation initiatives.
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