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Launching McKinsey Sustainability: Our new platform for helping clients innovate to net zero

Today, we are announcing the launch of McKinsey Sustainability, our new client-service platform with the goal of helping all industry sectors transform to get to net zero by 2050 and to cut carbon emissions by half by 2030.

McKinsey Sustainability seeks to be the preeminent impact partner and advisor for our clients, from the board room to the engine room, on sustainability, climate, energy transition, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG). We are committed to investing behind this goal over the next four years—through our client service, knowledge and capability building, acquisitions and alliances as well as pro-bono investments.

This launch builds on our nearly 100-year history and our mission to help our clients make distinctive, lasting, and substantial improvements in their performance in several ways: by developing distinctive insights; convening leaders across the private, public, and social sector; and acting as a responsible citizen of the world. We will deploy the innovative capabilities, tools, and solutions we have created and embedded in our work across industries and functions that are making a difference already.

“Our aim is to be the largest private sector catalyst for decarbonization,” says our global managing partner Kevin Sneader. “The transition to a net-zero economy will increase the basis of innovation and competition. Those who act now will be advantaged, and we will help our clients ensure they are among these sustainability leaders.”

McKinsey Sustainability will invest in the creation of climate and energy transition thought leadership, building on our ground-breaking work on carbon cost curves, which began with our first report on greenhouse gas abatement in 2007 and more recently continued with our January 2020 McKinsey Global Institute report “Climate risk and response: Physical hazards and socioeconomic impact.”  

We are assembling the best talent in the world—including a broad set of McKinsey leaders from every industry and functional practice—to move at speed and at scale. More than 1,000 of our colleagues have already joined the new platform, and we aspire to be the top destination for the best sustainability and climate talent everywhere.

Our plans embrace the four key levers needed to decarbonize. We will help our clients drive a ‘brown to green’ transition of the global economy’s installed base; build tomorrow’s new green businesses and innovations; retire and repurpose the highest carbon intensity assets; and scale nature-based solutions by scaling voluntary and compliance carbon markets.

As a firm, we are aligned around a set of comprehensive capabilities and solutions that will be embedded in all our industries and functions as we help our clients get to net zero: creating strategies that help respond to areas where they are over exposed to climate risk and under exposed to the opportunity of ‘going green,’ amid rising systemic risk; growing new sustainable businesses; catalyzing decarbonization strategies; realigning and reallocating capital across provider portfolios; and forming and deploying capital into new growth for sustainable businesses.

We are proud of the impact our clients’ have already achieved, which includes building a new green steel factory from scratch in Northern Europe, scaling up hydrogen capabilities to get to net zero, and stress testing portfolios to assess asset exposure to the physical and transition risks posed by climate change. 

Our March acquisition of Vivid Economics is a significant milestone in our efforts. A leading player in climate and sustainability economics, Vivid brings an established track record of helping clients accelerate their paths to net zero. This is one of the largest acquisitions we have made as part of our goal to be the leading management consultancy in climate-related issues in the financial sector.

We will continue our work as a knowledge partner and convener across a vibrant ecosystem of industry associations and institutions. These partnerships include the World Economic Forum, working across a number of sectors, including agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and mobility, including a recent collaboration for the report “Nature and Net Zero”; the Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets, sponsored by the Institute of International Finance; the COP 26 Private Finance Hub’s Portfolio Alignment Team, which is identifying best practices to measure the alignment of financial portfolios with climate goals, in collaboration with the Taskforce on Financial Related Climate Disclosures; and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development to support the Value Chain Carbon Transparency Pathfinder, a new initiative dedicated to enabling widespread exchange of primary carbon emissions data.

To enable these capabilities and solutions, we are also establishing the McKinsey Academy for Sustainability to train boards, CXOs, and colleagues on climate change along with several Technology Centers of Excellence that will lead cutting-edge innovation on batteries, hydrogen, carbon capture, nature-based solutions, water, plastics, and more.

These moves are reflected in our own commitments as a firm and our 33,000 colleagues to reach net zero climate impact by 2030.  During McKinsey’s transition to net zero, we will continue to compensate all our emissions, including those from travel, by investing in carbon-reduction projects certified to international standards. And we are committed to measuring and quantifying the difference we are making as we help industries and society more generally on the path to decarbonization and to net zero by 2050 or earlier.

When it comes to fighting climate change the time to engage is now.

Kevin Sneader, McKinsey global managing partner

The climate crisis is the defining issue of our generation. Our research shows that the physical risk from climate change will continue to increase until the world achieves net zero emissions. To stay below 1.5C, emissions must be cut by half by 2030 and to net zero by 2050, in keeping with the Paris Agreement. The real economy today is carbon intensive and needs to be transitioned rapidly. 

“When it comes to fighting climate change the time to engage is now,” says Kevin. “We are determined to do our part and help others achieve the change that is needed and needed urgently.”

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