How To Build An Effective Climate Transition Plan

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How To Build An Effective Climate Transition Plan

A climate transition plan is a critical first step for acting on climate commitments. Specifically, organizations must lay out the targets, actions and resources that support their transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. Multiple organizations, such as CDP, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) and the UK Transition Plan Taskforce (TPT), have laid out guidelines for what makes a credible transition plan. We synthesize much of this research in our recent report on best practices for corporate transition planning – but we also go further and layout how to create a good plan.

For our research, we interviewed sustainability leaders from 10 firms – as well as vendors who support transition planning – and reviewed over 30 publicly available transition plans. We found that transition planning is as much about the process as it is the written document. A few important parts of this process are:

  • Establishing strong governance systems.
    Leadership from the C-Suite and the board helps ensure that the resources needed to develop and implement the plan are available. Good governance requires defining who is responsible for which parts of the plan and putting accountability mechanisms in place. In many cases, it is also necessary to teach executives about climate change.

  • Engaging and educating key stakeholders.
    A transition plan requires action from finance, legal, risk, operations, procurement and other departments. Ensuring that these stakeholders are on board with the transition plan increases the likelihood that it will be funded and implemented. Some strategies for motivating involvement are offering financial incentives, presenting data on how climate change will affect business and establishing cross-functional working groups. Doing this early in the process increases buy-in and makes the plan more relevant for all parts of the organization.

  • Embedding climate in other business strategies.
    Implementing a transition plan is more feasible when it is part of the larger business strategy. Similarly, it is important to consider other strategic plans when developing the transition plan, as business-related changes affect an organization’s emissions, climate risk exposure and vulnerability.


Many of the sustainability leaders we interviewed agreed that firms should start transition planning sooner rather than later, even if the information available is imperfect or incomplete. If you are one of the many sustainability leaders with questions about how to do this, register for our webinar on April 23rd, where we will discuss the value of transition plans, what makes a good plan, and the best practices for creating one.

Emma Cutler

Senior Analyst

Emma is a Senior Analyst in the Verdantix Net Zero & Climate Risk practice. Her current research agenda focuses on physical and transition climate risk, climate resilience and adaptation. She has a background in simulation and statistical modelling applied to climate adaptation, coastal management and international development. She holds a PhD in Systems Engineering from Dartmouth College and a BA in Mathematics and Environmental Studies from Bowdoin College.