Breaking business barriers to Net Zero

An analysis of the key barriers sustainability decision-makers face in large businesses, and the solutions to help accelerate progress to Net Zero.

Front cover of report


Large businesses around the world are rising to the challenge of setting Net Zero targets: as of November 2023, over half of the world’s 2,000 largest businesses have set Net Zero targets.

However, the transformation required to meet Net Zero targets is not yet part of business-as-usual. To deliver a clear Net Zero transition, businesses must set out how they will pivot assets, operations and ultimately, entire business models towards Net Zero-aligned emissions reductions.

The Net Zero transition requires businesses to demonstrate high levels of ambition, action and accountability. To understand how businesses can achieve this, it is vital to know more about the complex challenges sustainability decision-makers face, both internal and external. The Carbon Trust’s Net Zero Intelligence Unit surveyed over 400 senior sustainability decision-makers in large businesses across the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Mexico on the biggest barriers to their Net Zero transition.

This report presents the findings of the research and explores solutions to help large businesses break barriers.

Key messages: 

Our research shows that businesses face barriers at each stage of the Net Zero transition planning journey. Three key barriers were revealed, each relate closely to the three core principles of transition planning: ambition, action and accountability.

  1. Barrier to ambition — Making the internal business case for Net Zero: Nearly a third of businesses identified ‘alignment of decarbonisation with other organisational priorities’ and ‘concern about the ability of the company to grow while also achieving Net Zero’ as their top internal barriers to Net Zero progress.
  2. Barrier to action — Tackling Scope 3 emissions: The difficulty of decarbonising Scope 3 emissions was one of the two most cited external barriers. Businesses told us that cost, alignment with growth plans and the lack of standardised methodology for foot printing are major barriers to minimising their Scope 3 emissions.
  3. Barrier to accountability — Concerns about external scrutiny of progress: Concerns about external scrutiny of progress towards Net Zero are high among businesses with less advanced climate targets. This suggests that businesses in the earlier stages of climate action are ‘greenstalling’, where they get stuck in a state of ‘analysis paralysis’ on the best thing to do, instead of taking initial steps in the right direction.

Read the report to learn more about how your business can break these common barriers.

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Accelerating innovation to Net Zero: Offshore wind

Experience-led insight towards Net Zero

This report is also available in German and Spanish



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