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Verdantix: Buyers Beware In The Climate Change Business Consulting Boom

Press Release -- For Immediate Release

London, UK. July 9, 2008. The embryonic climate change business consulting market is set to boom but buyers must beware of untested offerings and gaps in consulting firms’ expertise, according to a new report from Verdantix. The report applies 74 evaluation criteria covering carbon footprints, carbon management strategy, corporate strategy for climate change, global carbon markets advisory and cleantech consulting to help buyers compare the climate change offerings of 16 leading consulting firms including Deloitte, EcoSecurities, ERM, ICF International, KPMG and McKinsey & Company.

“In 2008, consulting firms expect to see growth of up 200% compared to 2007 for advice on global carbon markets and renewable energy.” said Verdantix Director, David Metcalfe. “Demand from corporates for climate change advice is less hot but is still growing at a healthy rate of 25%. Buyers are looking for proven environmental expertise with a business analysis edge. This combination poses a challenge for new players entering the climate change consulting market.”

The Verdantix analysis of the climate change business consulting market is based on in-depth interviews with practice leaders of business consultancies and a focus group composed of 15 buyers of climate change services. The research found that: 

  • Climate change experts – not executives – buy consulting services. Outside the utilities sector, corporate buyers of climate change advice have roles in CSR, sustainability, energy management and environmental strategy. Few execs are directly involved in buying decisions on climate change advice.
  • Buyers seek environmental expertise wrapped with business analysis. Climate change is changing from an environmental issue into an economic issue. As a result, managers responsible for implementing climate change programmes seek advisers who combine technical expertise with business advice and financial analysis skills.
  • IT and strategy consultants lack credibility with buyers. Despite the backing of strong brand names and investment in new climate change consulting capabilities, IT and strategy consulting firms have a long way to go to convince sceptical buyers that they are the right partner.
  • Carbon management and compliance dominate spending. To date firms have invested in carbon measurement and management advice and plan to spend on compliance in the next 12 months. Opportunity analysis, carbon offsetting advice and strategy development are not priorities for 2009.

“Buyers of climate change business consulting services face a really complex task to select the right provider for their needs” said Metcalfe. “Firms can pick from a multitude of different consultancies attacking the market with different types of expertise and wide variations in consulting day rates. Buyers of consulting engagements could overpay or select a provider with skills that do not match the challenge. Confusion will increase as more players are poised to launch services.”   

To help buyers cut through the confusion Verdantix assessed and compared 16 climate change business consulting firms against 74 evaluation criteria. This uniquely detailed analysis arrived at the following conclusions:

  • ICF International leads the pack. This firm combines a long track record in climate change advisory, deep environmental expertise, business analysis skills and the capability to deliver engagements in energy intensive sectors and service sectors. These elements put ICF International at the forefront of climate change business consulting.
  • Specialist teams build momentum. Firms that launched or significantly enhanced their climate change offerings in the last 2 years now have evidence of customer wins. This is a diverse group which includes global professional services firms Deloitte, KPMG and PwC; environmental consultancies ERM and URS Corporation; strategy consultants McKinsey & Company; and successful niche player dcarbon8.
  • Recent arrivals need to build mindshare. This diverse group launched their offerings in the last 18 months and target specific industries or functions. IBM Global Business Services has an innovative offering for data centre and facilities energy efficiency. BT Global Services launched a sustainability offering in late 2007. L.E.K. Consulting focuses on strategic analysis of climate change challenges.
  • Strategy consultants mostly take a passive approach. BCG, Bain & Company and Booz & Company have not marketed their climate change consulting capabilities to the same extent as their competitors. Nor do these firms publicly disclose their energy, waste and emissions data in the way that the environmental and professional services firms do.

“Climate change business consulting is just coming out of the starting blocks. Sky high oil prices, waves of climate change and energy efficiency legislation and changing customer demand will drive solid growth over the next 2 years – despite the economic downturn” said David Metcalfe, author of the report. “More consulting firms will launch offerings in this space which will be a blessing and a curse for buyers as they try and seek the right adviser to help tackle their challenges.”

The report, Verdantix Green Quadrant: Climate Change Business Consulting, can be purchased online and is available to Verdantix clients at www.verdantix.com

About Verdantix
Verdantix is an independent business research firm focused on climate change, carbon markets and corporate responsibility. For more information visit www.verdantix.com

Press Contact
David Metcalfe
+ 44 (0)207 851 9143
press@verdantix.com