Understand The Net Zero Consulting Services Market: Key Takeaways For Buyers

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Understand The Net Zero Consulting Services Market: Key Takeaways For Buyers

The market for net zero consulting services is hotly contested. Providers from diverse professional services backgrounds, including dedicated sustainability boutiques, global accounting and consulting houses, and engineering services firms are looking to win market share and meet corporate demand. 

The proliferation of vendors providing net zero consulting services has led to confusion amongst buyers, who find themselves asking: 

  • How do services differ between providers? 
  • Which projects should we prioritise? 
  • And above all, what is the key to successful decarbonisation?

In order to shine a light on this market, the 2022 Verdantix Smart Innovators: Net Zero Consulting Services provides a benchmark of 27 vendors, across 14 key service categories. The report reveals that:

Offerings reflect historical competencies of service providers.

Sustainability consulting services are mature, and there is consequently a healthy ecosystem of dedicated players with heritage in the space providing net zero consulting services. The ESG boom has, however, pushed large professional services firms to consider how they can capitalise on this market trend. Part of this strategy involves selling their pre-existing capabilities in assurance, M&A, and financial services under a new ESG banner. In order to boost capabilities in more specialised net zero areas, firms including Accenture, BCG, and EY have acquired specialist firms to differentiate themselves on the competitive stage. This trend will continue in 2023. But note that global players are yet to outcompete boutique firms in several net zero services areas, such as carbon data management and accounting. Firms looking for a services provider must consider both specialist and more general services firms to meet their requirements.

Providers’ digital offerings for decarbonisation are major differentiators.

Technology has a vital role to play in enabling corporate decarbonisation (see Verdantix Best Practices: Net Zero Emissions Digital Strategies). One core trend of the net zero consulting services market is that the strength of digital toolkits – either in-house or through partnerships – has evolved as a major differentiating factor between solution providers. These digital offerings can either take the form of end-to-end decarbonisation solutions, as seen by EY’s partnerships with Microsoft and Enablon, bespoke, asset-specific decarbonisation tools, such as UL’s Homer Grid, or more general carbon management software solutions, such as WayCarbon’s Climas. Digital capabilities should be top of mind when selecting a net zero consulting services partner.

Buyers must take net zero strategy from the boardroom to the asset level.

Currently, net zero consulting services providers focus on the strategy setting element of managing net zero programmes. This reflects corporate demand; many industries have yet to engage in proactive asset-level decarbonisation strategies, particularly in more high emissions sectors. Executives seeking to partner with a services firm should prioritise asset-specific decarbonisation expertise – covering both technical and strategic capabilities – as well as broader industry experience. This approach will ensure firms benefit from strategies that drive actual asset-level emissions reductions to support net zero pledges.

Connor Taylor

Senior Analyst

Connor is a Senior Analyst in the Verdantix Net Zero & Climate Risk practice. His current research agenda focuses on carbon management software, climate change consulting services, and the voluntary carbon markets. Connor joined Verdantix in 2021, with prior experience in EHS technology sales and development. He holds a BA from the University of Cambridge in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic.