Lack of education and expertise is a barrier to business net zero ambitions

A lack of education and expertise is one of the biggest obstacles faced by ESG and sustainability leaders, according to a new survey from accounting and auditing firm EY.

Around a third of the 506 global sustainability leaders surveyed said that a lack of board-level climate expertise is a barrier to net zero ambitions.

On top of this, 35% said they faced difficulties hiring talent with climate change skills.

Despite the challenges around needing to address sustainability education – which the Department for Education is looking to address in the long term with a new Natural History GCSE qualification – only 8% of UK sustainability leads expressed a lack of confidence about achieving their goals.


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Nearly two-thirds of UK-based sustainability leaders (63%) also felt that joint ventures (where two or more companies gather talent together to achieve tasks) could be useful for achieving net zero.

However, over half (56%) said that regulatory challenges due to restrictions were an obstacle to carrying out these joint ventures.

“As our economy transitions towards net zero, demand for employers with sustainability expertise will only rise across industries, from engineers to financial services personnel who understand how to accurately assess and price risk for new forms of environmental assets,” said EY UK and Ireland managing partner for sustainability Rob Doepel.

“However, businesses are also recognising that environmental education and expertise at a leadership level could make the difference to whether their company thrives or flounders in the new green economy”.

“While many remain confident in reaching their targets, there is an underlying concern that a lack of sustainability expertise, particularly at a leadership level, could stall business net zero ambitions”.

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