EY to hire 1,300 UK professionals for new ‘Carbon’ arm

EY is launching a new sustainability service business and is planning to hire 1,300 people in the UK to staff its operations - equivalent to around one-tenth of its current UK employee base.

EY to hire 1,300 UK professionals for new ‘Carbon’ arm

EY will invest £100m into the offering within three years

The ‘Big Four’ professional services firm announced the move today (14 February), confirming plans for £100m of investment in the department, to be called EY Carbon.

Professionals working within EY Carbon will be tasked with supporting businesses to improve their net-zero plans. EY said in a statement that it has timed the launch of the service ahead of the Treasury’s upcoming net-zero transition plan mandate.

Under that mandate, announced at COP26 last November, large firms in high-emitting sectors will be required to draw up plans for transitioning to net-zero, detailing how emissions cuts will be achieved; how investment plans will change and how workers and communities will be supported. Research has repeatedly shown that many large firms are failing on this latter just transition aspect.

A select few businesses have published such plans, including Centrica and SSE. But they remain the exception rather than the norm.

EY has chosen Rob Doepel, its market segment leader for energy, to head up EY Carbon.

While we have seen a number of large, medium and small businesses sign up to net-zero targets, the new requirement for UK listed businesses to publish their plans by 2023 is a significant shift,” said Doepel.

“It is an extremely positive step in the fight against climate change but means that businesses will need to move from purpose statements and pledges to the detailed transition plans that will lead to positive action being taken. The new regulations also include tracking Scope 3 (indirect) emissions… Accurately tracking and recording these will present a real and significant challenge for businesses as we move towards the 2023 deadline.”

For its own operations, EY announced that it achieved carbon neutrality in 2020 and carbon negativity in October 2021. It is targeting net-zero globally by 2025.

The state of play with net-zero targets

A stock-take of corporate net-zero commitments by Net-Zero Tracker in November 2021 found that while ever more large businesses are setting targets, only 32% have plans to tackle all of their Scope 3 emissions. CDP has estimated that, for the average large multinational firm, Scope 3 emissions will be 11.4 times higher than direct emissions, making their inclusion in net-zero targets a cornerstone of credibility.

More recently,  a report questioning the reliability of the emissions accounting underpinning corporate net-zero commitments was published this week, receiving much coverage in mainstream news outlets. Written by the New Climate Institute and Carbon Market Watch, the report assessed 25 corporates’ net-zero commitments. It found that the companies are collectively planning to reduce emissions by just 23%, from 2019 levels, meaning they are over-relying on offsetting and not delivering a science-based transition. Like Net-Zero Tracker’s research, this paper also found poor progress in accounting for Scope 3 emissions.

Sarah George

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