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Companies with a net-zero goal reduced emissions by 10% on average over the last decade; those without targets saw emissions increase.

Corporate commitments to net-zero accelerated over the last two years, with almost one-third (30%) of Europe’s largest listed companies now having pledged to reach net-zero by 2050, according to a new study by Accenture.

The Accenture study, “Reaching Net Zero by 2050,” analyzed data from more than 1,000 listed companies across Europe’s major stock indexes, finding that setting targets helps accelerate the transition to net-zero — i.e., where a company reduces its emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHG) to zero or offsets the remainder to achieve a balance between the amount of GHG emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. Last decade, the companies with a net-zero goal reduced their emissions by 10% on average, while those without targets saw their emissions increase.

Companies listed in the U.K. were the most likely to have set a net-zero target date, covering scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, with 37% having done so, compared with 27% in Germany and 18% in France.

The average net-zero target year for European companies included in the study is 2043.

Many companies in carbon-intensive industries — such as oil and gas and chemicals — have set net-zero target dates of or close to 2050, while many in services sectors aim for around 2035.

Europe's business community is more engaged than ever in the race to zero, with the number of companies publicly setting goals having grown over the last two years,” said Jean-Marc Ollagnier, CEO of Accenture in Europe.

“And as our study shows, the targets work. Net zero should be managed as any strategic business priority: set clear objectives to drive the entire organization to the same direction, and monitor progress to correct the trajectory as appropriate. Making targets public also helps create the required collective momentum, as the companies can’t solve it alone.” Jean-Marc Ollagnier added.

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