Net-Zero Transition Planning as a Change Management Process

June 8, 2023Published by Transition Planning and Change Management

There is a “serious cultural deficit” in positive visions for a net-zero future, says this commentary written for the Grantham Institute. To have a genuine chance of meeting net-zero goals, regulators must move from a data-driven to human-centred approach, according to author Darian McBain.

McBain draws on the field of organisational change research to explain how transition plans can be designed to achieve wider social support and accelerate the pace of transformation.

McBain, CEO and founder of Outsourced Chief Sustainability Officer (OCSO) Asia and a visiting professor at the Grantham Institute, states that transition planning will be best executed when it executes a “shared vision” and “common understanding” of goals.

Despite overwhelming consensus in the scientific community and, increasingly, the financial sector on the urgent need for transition, progress has been slow. McBain partially attributes this to  regulators neglecting the social dimension of ESG and says they should increase focus on the human outcomes of changing core business practices.

McBain goes on to say that climate facts and figures will not change minds. Successful change management in business draws on an “interdependence of fate” and prioritises people-centred collaboration.

While the primary focus on economy, data and metrics by financial supervisors has helped establish institutional support, disclosure rules and scientific understanding, McBain says it has also hindered wider social buy-in.

Transition planning must consider how whole systems – such as transport, food and energy – can be reimagined to decouple personal, social and economic growth from emissions, says McBain. Adding that while carbon targets are good for simplicity and comparability, they mask the complex systems change required for just transition planning.

This page was last updated June 7, 2023

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