Step change in demand for consultants to tackle climate change

As a number of global events aimed at fighting man-made climate change come to a head this week,

As a number of global events aimed at fighting man-made climate change come to a head this week, the Management Consultancies Association has published findings on the consulting industry’s role in the sustainability efforts of its clients. According to the representative body, the most common role the sector plays is risk identification, followed by developing solutions to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Climate Week NYC is an annual event that has taken place every year in New York City since 2009. The summit takes place alongside the UN General Assembly and brings together international leaders from business, government and civil society to showcase global climate action. Coinciding with the annual gathering this year, the Management Consultancies Association, which represents the UK’s consulting industry, has revealed that consulting firms are seeing increasing demand from clients looking to do their part when it comes to reducing the impact of carbon emissions on the planet.

According to the MCA, its member firms are undertaking major projects with clients as climate change drives some of the most profound changes to businesses in our lifetime. Illustrating the diversity of these projects, the MCA highlighted a number of its members as examples, including Arcadis providing a climate change risk assessment for a major Australian and US property group, Atkins helping to implement one of the largest greenhouse reduction plans in the state of California, and Deloitte helping BAFTA to increase the UK television industry’s action on climate change, among others.

Topping the list of list of climate-related engagements was identification of risks. Impacts on products and services, supply chains, loss of asset values and market changes are already being caused by more frequent and severe climate-related events, so simply knowing what is already happening is key to developing a plan of action from here on in.

Finding solutions to mitigate climate change both internally and externally, and helping companies and cities develop resilience solutions for freeze/thaw, flooding and water shortage events were the next most popular services. Consultancies were then asked to work with companies to review business models to ensure sustainability has been factored in, while helping companies understand the complex landscape of new green regulations and incentives.

In addition, management consultancy firms are setting their own targets to reduce energy emissions, water use, and single-use plastics. Many employees are also pledging to eat less meat and pledging to switch to renewable energy and offset their flights. Some top-table consultancies are already operating 100% carbon neutral models as a result.

Tamzen Isacsson, Chief Executive, MCA, commented, “Businesses need to consider a range of new targets, as well as forthcoming regulation, to help tackle climate change and we are seeing a step change by businesses in the use of management consultancies to bring in technical expertise, multi-disciplinary capabilities and to challenge traditional thinking. The range of activity that is taking place highlights the new ways of operating and doing business and consultants are assisting organisations in making major changes to the way they are functioning to help the environment.”

The MCA’s release also coincides with millions of people, young and old, taking part in a week-long ‘climate strike’ around the world. Thousands of people have already joined rallies in British cities including Glasgow, Manchester and London, urging “climate justice.” Despite the action illustrated by the MCA, the grassroots campaign is borne of the belief not enough is being done to offset an oncoming climate catastrophe. This is something backed up by research from PwC earlier in September, which found that to meet targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement, efforts may need to be increased by as much as seven times in the coming years.