KPMG becomes final Big Four member to commit to net zero

12 November 2020 3 min. read
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KPMG has become the final member of the Big Four to announce its intentions to become net-zero by the end of the decade. The firm’s targets include a 50% reduction of KPMG’s direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions.

Big Four firm KPMG has announced definitively that its global organisation will commit to going net-zero by 2030. Underpinning this goal, the global organisation has signed up to a series of new climate actions, including a 1.5°C science-based target which will focus on achieving a 50% reduction of KPMG’s direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Additionally, the firm is committed to using 100% renewable electricity by 2022 in its Board Countries, and by 2030 for the wider network, while offsetting any remaining emissions through externally accredited voluntary schemes to mitigate the remainder it cannot remove from its operations and supply chain.

Global Chairman & CEO of KPMG International, Bill Thomas said, “We have made real, and valuable, progress in our efforts to help KPMG member firms and clients grow sustainably, but the size of the climate challenge we face globally means we must go further.”

KPMG becomes final Big Four member to commit to net zero

The announcement builds on previous progress from KPMG in reducing its collective impact on the planet. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the global organisation had reduced its net carbon emissions per FTE by around one-third over the last decade, performing better than its targets. It is also currently on track to meet its 2020 renewable energy target of 60%.

The biggest impact KPMG can make may not be its overhauling its internal operations, however. Just like PwC, which noted its intent to provide clients with insights about climate risks and opportunities as well as helping them to transform their business processes, KPMG has committed to work with clients across the world to support them in decarbonising their businesses and supply chains, while embedding ESG in everything they do. To that end, earlier this year the firm launched KPMG IMPACT, which aims to support clients in delivering growth with purpose, and achieving progress against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Speaking after KPMG’s net-zero announcement, Richard Threlfall, Global Head of KPMG IMPACT said, “I am delighted to see KPMG enhancing our collective commitment to the global climate agenda by adopting science-based targets with the carbon reduction plan that has been announced today. KPMG shares the same responsibility as the clients we serve, to rapidly reduce and eventually reverse our contribution to global warming. By further extending our own commitments in this space I believe we are better placed to work and collaborate with clients to help them decarbonize their businesses too.”

Net-zero in consulting

As pressure mounts on the public and private sector to take quantifiable action to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, 2020 has seen a growing number of major consulting firms declaring themselves to be ‘net-zero’ carbon, or to be aiming for as much within a short amount of time. At the turn of the year, this saw EY launch its Better Begins With You programme to promote community and sustainability work by its staff, as well as committing to be net-zero by the end of this year – a decade sooner than many other firms.

Deloitte followed suit in the late summer by announcing that through its WorldClimate strategy it would commit to the more conventional target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2030 – and PwC announced shortly after in September that it too would aim to operate at net-zero by 2030.

While some local branches – including Australia, Ireland, Brazil, Spain and the Netherlands – had made commitments to net-zero operational emissions, that left KPMG as the only member of the Big Four yet to announce a net-zero target – until now.