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ESG & Net-Zero Strategy

Helping leaders and organizations rewrite the climate math equation

Several forces have pushed sustainability to the top of the agenda. Investors and financial markets are increasingly demanding a compelling environmental, social, and governance (ESG) plan and a path to net-zero carbon emissions. As expectations rise and global regulations expand, many organizations still don’t have a solution to the current climate math equation.

We help leaders identify the key actions that will get them closer to net zero. We work with them to solve for all key variables in the sustainability equation: carbon emissions, financial performance, capital investment, and societal impact. We diagnose their current sustainability positions, establish quantitative baselines, define clear aspirations, and design actionable sustainability plans.

Featured video

Leading on Business Sustainability

“You can’t outsource sustainability.” McKinsey Sustainability leaders Daniel Pacthod, Dickon Pinner, and Laura Corb, explain why businesses will need to embed sustainability in every part of the company

What we do

Net zero and portfolio strategy

We help clients assess the full potential of their sustainability efforts and analyze implications for portfolio, green growth, and decarbonization. We also help them communicate their strategies and the reasoning behind them to the capital markets.

Environment, Social, Governance (ESG)

We help ESG-focused organizations benchmark their own performance against peers, set ESG goals, quantify value at stake, and develop roadmaps for improving ESG performance.

Examples of our work

Clearing a path to net zero

We worked with a leading energy company to decrease its reliance on fossil fuels in line with Paris Agreement targets and meet expectations of investors and creditors calling for faster transition. We mapped out investor expectations, assessed the client’s emissions across three scopes, identified green growth options, and created a set of targets to communicate to the market.

Reviewing and rebuilding to improve sustainability

We helped a plastics producer perform an “ESG teardown” by re-examining its entire operating model and value chain through the lens of sustainability. We baselined the client’s footprint and governance against industry peers, identified and evaluated multiple business model options, and prioritized decarbonization initiatives.

Optimizing performance to eliminate carbon emissions

We assisted a leading auto manufacturer in developing a bold game plan to reduce CO2 emissions across the vehicle lifecycle and regain its position as a sustainability leader. We benchmarked ESG performance against peers, defined and communicated a set of features to enhance safety, and developed a set of programs to promote skill building and employee wellness.

Featured Experts

Lucy Pérez
Senior Partner, Boston
Advises pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical-product companies, and healthcare providers in addressing strategic, organizational,...
Michael Birshan
Senior Partner, London
Global co-leader of our Strategy & Corporate Finance Practice, partnering with bold and determined leaders to set strategy, transform...
Rory Clune
Partner, Boston
Brings broad experience in strategic and operational topics to companies across the energy value chain, along with deep expertise...
Xavier Costantini
Senior Partner, Montevideo
Helps companies in highly complex industries achieve successful operational transformation, instilling lean methodologies and...
Emma Gibbs
Partner, London
Leader of the Strategy & Corporate Finance Practice in the United Kingdom; helps public- and private-sector clients set sustainable...
Stefan Helmcke
Senior Partner, Vienna
Stefan Helmcke is co-leader of McKinsey’s global Sustainability Practice. He is responsible for sustainability strategy as well...
Thomas Hundertmark
Senior Partner, Houston
Advises leading energy and industrial companies on creating value from strategic transformations, step-change programs, and sustainability
Hugues Lavandier
Senior Partner, Paris
Advises energy, mining, and OEM companies on growth and portfolio strategies and evaluates corporate-finance opportunities; supports...
Nomfanelo Magwentshu
Partner, Johannesburg
Serves organizations across the public sector with a focus on economic development, health, and education, as well as private...
Anna Moore
Partner, London
Advises on sustainability and strategy in basic materials and the built environment
Robin Nuttall
Partner, London
Robin is a global leader in McKinsey’s ESG and Regulatory service line, and serves clients on these topics across a range of sector
Marco Piccitto
McKinsey Global Institute Director and Senior Partner, Milan
Leads research and advises leading European financial and industrial institutions on a broad range of risk-management, business...
Werner Rehm
Partner, New Jersey
Works at the intersection of strategy and finance with high tech, industrial, and pharmaceutical clients to identify and prioritize...
Adam Sabow
Senior Partner, Chicago
Works with pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology firms, global health institutions, and not for profits to support commercial...
Hamid Samandari
Senior Partner, New York
Cofounder and senior leader of the global Risk & Resilience Practice and Chair of the firm’s Knowledge Council, who leads our...
Giulia Siccardo
Partner, Bay Area
Builds innovative strategies and operating models for companies to achieve sustainable, inclusive growth
Matt Stone
Partner, London
Helps CEOs, CFOs, and CSOs of leading institutions pivot their strategy and resource allocation around ESG, purpose, and sustainability

Featured Insights


How to make ESG real

– While ESG is likely to evolve both in substance and name in the coming years, its underlying impulse is here to stay. Here’s how companies can take a more systematic and rewarding approach to ESG.
Article - McKinsey Quarterly

Does ESG really matter—and why?

– Although valid questions have been raised about ESG, the need for companies to understand and address their externalities is likely to become essential to maintaining their social license.

Spotting green business opportunities in a surging net-zero world

– Explore how 8 industries may transition to reach a 2050 net-zero scenario, and how organizations can respond with new green businesses that create value along the way.

Solving the net-zero equation in the United States

– Achieving net-zero carbon emissions will require investment and action on a massive scale. How can the United States meet the challenge of this moment?
Article - McKinsey Quarterly

Playing offense to create value in the net-zero transition

– Decarbonization will reshape the economy, opening new markets and imperiling others. Now is the moment for companies to spot green growth opportunities and move boldly to take advantage.
Article - McKinsey Quarterly

Climate math: What a 1.5-degree pathway would take

– Decarbonizing global business at scale is achievable, but the math is daunting.

The ESG premium: New perspectives on value and performance

– In a new survey, executives and investment professionals largely agree that environmental, social, and governance programs create short- and long-term value—though perceptions of how have changed over the past decade.

Connect with McKinsey Sustainability