Global professional services firm EY announced the launch today of EY Carbon, a new consulting and advisory practice in the UK aimed at supporting businesses in the development and implementation of net zero strategies.

EY said that it will support the launch of EY Carbon with an investment of more than £100 million, with plans to hire over 1,300 professionals over the next three years.

The practice will be led by Rob Doepel, who has been appointed Managing Partner for Sustainability. Doepel joined EY in 2006, most recently serving as Market Segment Leader for Energy.

Doepel said:

“Sustainability is one of the defining issues of our generation and EY has a significant contribution to make in addressing today’s environmental challenges by supporting our clients and our communities. I’m incredibly excited and proud to be leading this effort across EY.”

According to EY, the new practice is being launched in response to the increasing regulatory pressure facing companies to act on climate, particularly the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak’s announcement at COP26 in November introducing mandatory disclosure by 2023 of net zero transition plans from UK financial institutions and listed companies.

Doepel added:

“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. 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 Emissions. In addition to the emissions a business produces from its own operations, a listed business must track indirect emissions that occur across its supply chain. Accurately tracking and recording these will present a real and significant challenge for businesses as we move towards the 2023 deadline.”

EY Carbon will include a multidisciplinary team, starting off with 250 dedicated sustainability professionals including 12 partners, from areas spanning tax, supply chain, law, technology, finance, people management, and strategy and transactions. Services offered by the practice will include climate risk modelling, net zero strategy and planning, access to financing, renewable energy supply, product and process innovation, operating model design and implementation, change management, and non-financial reporting and disclosure.

Alison Kay, EY’s Managing Partner for Client Service, said:

“Decarbonisation is critical to tackling climate change and requires more than just financial data and reporting – it impacts everything from taxation, operating models, supply chains, data, products and much more. Investors, employees and communities are increasingly holding businesses to account over their sustainability credentials, and inaction is simply not an option. Businesses that will thrive in a net-zero economy must lead on this agenda with transparency and pace.”

Hywel Ball, EY UK Chair, added:

“Transitioning to a net-zero economy will take a collective effort, from across the private and public sectors – sustainability is everybody’s business and we all need to play our part. Innovative thinking, transformational business models and rapid action are what’s needed to fast track the UK to a more sustainable future. It is also vital for businesses to have robust controls and assurance in place to mitigate the  potential for greenwashing, enabling them to demonstrate the genuine strides they are making to minimise their impact on the environment.”