Rising to the challenge of net zero banking

Many large international banks want to become stewards of the transition to a net zero economy and help their customers decarbonize. But four obstacles, or conundrums, are hampering banks on their journey to execute their net zero commitments.

Publish date: 09 June 2023

As soaring greenhouse gas emissions threaten the planet, policymakers and regulators around the world are looking to banks to lead the fight against climate change. So far, almost 60% of the world’s leading banks have made public commitments to reach net zero carbon emissions.

Moreover, Accenture research found that many banks are eager to go a step further. They want to become stewards of the global transition to a net zero economy and guide their corporate customers as they decarbonize. This role would enable banks to extend and strengthen their businesses while also playing a pivotal role in preserving the planet for future generations.

According to our research, four major obstacles, or conundrums are hampering banks from achieving this goal:


  • 1. An internal top vs. bottom disconnect: C-suite executives at many banks want their organizations to become stewards of the transition to net zero. But these banks have often not embedded the cultural and policy changes needed to ensure that all members of the workforce support such ambitions.
  • 2. It’s difficult to see the forest for the trees: Banks that have begun their net zero journey with small teams and although programs have been set up, there's an “add on” approach rather than embedding. For an initiative as significant as sustainability in the net zero journey, a full scale transformation agenda is needed.


  • 3. Huge product promises that ring hollow: Many banks have made ambitious sustainable finance commitments. But their “green” product and service offerings are still in their infancy and customer relationships have yet to grow into partnerships.


  • 4. Carbon data – banks’ best friend and worst enemy: Banks recognize that carbon emissions data is vital for their journey to net zero. However, they are often frustrated by difficulties in sourcing reliable and accurate data, as well as by the complexities of integrating such information into their often fragile legacy systems.


Read the full report