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Climate change knowledge hub

We work with leaders and companies in many different ways to build the knowledge, capability and collective action to lead transformational change for a safe and stable climate. 


Low carbonAn unprecedented economic transformation will be required to deliver a prosperous, resilient and zero carbon economy and to maintain a safe and stable climate for humanity.  Businesses from every sector, as well as policy makers and financial institutions, all have a role to play as policies, technologies and investments are together geared to deliver a socially inclusive transformation, at pace and scale. Our Rewiring the Economy plan sets out ten collaborative tasks for business, government and finance leaders, to guide this transformation.   

The scale of the climate challenge was recently emphasised by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5 degrees, which catalogued the real environmental damage, human suffering and increased economic costs that would arise if we allow global average temperature rises to exceed that level. The report made it clear that the world needs to reach ‘net zero’ emissions as soon as possible to stop contributing to climate change. The IPCC is an intergovernmental body through which, at the request of governments, thousands of experts review the latest science and analysis to produce comprehensive assessments of what the body of academic opinion indicates. IPCC reports clearly indicate the levels of consensus and certainty around each finding.

Find out how we can help your organisation lead the way towards a net zero future.


Aiming for zero

Sustainability leadershipPrompted by the Paris Agreement and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a faster pace, governments across the world are reviewing their initial ambitions, and looking at what is required to deliver on the goal of ‘net zero’ emissions.

Achieving this goal has stimulated much debate, at national, European and international levels, on what this transition means for business across different sectors, for people and for leadership.

Read about how companies are preparing for a net zero future.

Senior thought leaders in our Network discuss what they believe is required to achieve a net zero future by 2050

Paul Gilding 160

Paul Gilding, environmental author and CISL Fellow: 

Will oil and gas companies survive action on climate change?


Tony Juniper 160

Tony Juniper, Executive Director for Advocacy and Campaigns, WWF-UK and CISL Fellow:

 Only an integrated approach to the global climate and conservation crises will be sufficient.

Alice Garton 160

Alice Garton, Senior Lawyer and Head of Climate at ClientEarth: 

Climate change liability risk vastly underestimated by businesses.


Dylan Tanner 160

Dylan Tanner, Executive Director and Co-Founder of  InfluenceMap: 

How can companies use their lobbying to drive a net zero future? 

Karl Henrik SundstromKarl-Henrik Sundström, CEO of Stora Enso:

How climate action is transforming the very fabric of business

Frank van der VloedFrank van der Vloed, President, Signify Europe

Carbon neutrality by 2050 makes sense.

Martin PorterMartin Porter, Executive Chair, CISL Brussels

Climate progress is key to reinvigorate European project

These articles do not necessarily represent the views of, or endorsement by, the Institute or the wider University of Cambridge.


Our work with companies and leaders to drive change towards a net zero future

Building individuals' leadership capacity

PersonWe build the leadership capacity of individuals and help them to address sustainability challenges such as climate change. We equip board directors, senior executives, sustainability practitioners and managers across organisations with the with the knowledge and capability to lead change within and beyond their organisations to accelerate progress towards a sustainable, zero carbon economy. Our Network of over 9,000 alumni and contributors are active in driving change in business, the public sector and civil society in every industry and on every continent.

Developing the capability of organisations and regions

GlobeWe develop the capability of organisations and regions to lead the transition to a zero carbon economy through our customised programmes and advisory work. We help organisations to identify material risks and opportunities – including opportunities to shape systemic change, to develop strategies that align sustainability and commercial performance, and to build and inspire leadership capability to drive transformational change across complex systems.

Facilitating collaboration and dialogue

PeopleWe facilitate collaboration and dialogue across conventional boundaries to help unlock the economic change required to achieve the goals of critical international agreements such as the Paris Climate Agreement and UN Sustainable Development Goals. By bringing together a core set of leadership groups such as the The Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Group the Green Growth Platform we unite businesses, policymakers and academic expertise to catalyse innovation and solutions to tackle climate change. We also work with over 50 financial companies across finance leadership groups, such as ClimateWise, the Banking Environment Initiative and the Investment Leaders Group, to co-produce research and develop financing solutions to build a sustainable economy. One of our projects, Bank 2030, is working on developing a vision for the banking sector in the low carbon economy.

Multidisciplinary research

Research and thought leadershipOur work is underpinned by multidisciplinary research and grounded in practitioner insights from exceptional people from business, policy, civil society and academia. Our work explores fundamental research questions arising from real-world problems faced by practitioners, such as climate change. The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Programme will help to mobilise global evidence on challenges such as climate change, with a view to enabling companies and policymakers to play a catalytic role in building a sustainable economy. Our Centre for Sustainable Finance is a research, education and practice hub on financial market reform to embed resilience to environmental risk in routine financing decisions, enabling investors to achieve positive impact against the Sustainable Development Goals, and harness the digital revolution to direct capital to sustainable business models.


Research and resources 

Resources for business


Industrial Transformation 2050: Pathways to net-zero emissions from EU Heavy Industry

April 2019 – The report, supported and co-funded by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), sets out multiple possible pathways the EU could pursue to achieve the full decarbonisation of its heavy industries by 2050.

The future of sustainable business: Reflections from 30 sustainability leaders

December 2018 – This paper highlights the challenges and opportunities faced by businesses during periods of change to deliver outcomes of the SDGs.

Linking planetary boundaries to business: Part of Kering’s series on planetary boundaries for business

January 2019 – Incorporating the Planetary Boundary framework into business decision-making can help companies understand the consequences of their environmental impacts at a global level and provide a critical new perspective on how to tackle their impact.

Aiming for Zero: Long-term certainty for economic prosperity

September 2018 – To have any hope of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 °C, it is clear from the latest science that global emissions must now fall to net zero as early as possible in the second half of this century. 

How companies are preparing for a net zero future

September 2018 – Hear from members of the Corporate Leaders Group about why they are aiming for a net zero future by 2050, how they plan to achieve this, and why they need the government to commit to this ambitious goal.

Aiming for Zero: A growing business movement

September 2018 – This briefing aims to support companies to engage more meaningfully in the net zero debate.

Resources for the finance sector 


Mutual microinsurance and the Sustainable Development Goals: An impact assessment following Typhoon Haiyan

June 2019 – Exploration of the potential for a community-owned model of insurance (mutual microinsurance) to deliver economic and social benefits aligned with the SDGs

Physical risk framework: Understanding the impact of climate change on real estate lending and investment portfolios

February 2019 – The ClimateWise Physical Risk Framework demonstrates how the expertise and tools of the insurance industry can support other parts of the financial system to understand their physical risk exposure.

Transition risk framework: Managing the impacts of the low carbon transition on infrastructure investments

February 2019 – The Transition Risk Framework provides a step-by-step methodology on how to manage the risks and capture emerging opportunities from the low carbon transition.

In search of impact - Measuring the full value of capital: Update: The Cambridge Impact Framework

January 2019 – A set of six open-source metrics which investors can use as proxies for their progress towards the SDGs.

Embedding environmental scenario analysis into routine financial decision-making in Mexico and South Africa

November 2018 – Following on from its work as a knowledge partner to the G20’s Green Finance Study Group, CISL's Centre for Sustainable Finance has published reports on embedding environmental scenario analysis into financial decision-making in Mexico and South Africa.

G20 approaches to implementing the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures

May 2018 – This report; Sailing from different harbours: G20 approaches to implementing the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, reviews the progress made by the national regulatory agencies of G20 members in making the TCFD recommendations relevant to their national contexts. It considers actions taken by the national (and international in the case of the EU) regulatory authorities in underlining the relevance, and taking steps towards potential implementation, of the TCFD recommendations.

Gearing up for regulation: The ClimateWise Principles Independent Review 2018

December 2018 – The ClimateWise Principles Independent Review 2018 finds the largest year-on-year improvement in group mean score against the Principles since 2014, and confirms the full alignment of the updated ClimateWise Principles with TCFD recommendations.

Resources for policymakers

Policy Engagement

Social impacts of climate change mitigation

April 2019 - CISL article in academic journal Climate Policy explores social co-impacts of climate change and implications for inequality.

Industrial transformation 2050-pathways to net zero emissions from EU heavy industry  

April 2019 – Exploration of the multiple possible pathways the EU could pursue to achieve full decarbonisation of its heavy industries by 2050.

New knowledge hub to help next generation of EU decision-makers deliver a prosperous, climate neutral future.

July 2019  – Thought leadership from the Corporate Leaders Group and other leading businesses on why this agenda is crucial and achievable.

Carbon neutrality by 2050 makes sense

May 2019 – To stay within the boundaries of the Paris Agreement, Europe needs to accelerate efforts to achieve a carbon neutral future and put climate change at the top of the EU agenda. Frank van der Vloed highlights five key steps that are critical for businesses to make the transition.

The energy transition in Central and Eastern Europe: The business case for higher ambition

March 2019 – The transition towards a zero carbon economy provides Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) with significant opportunities to deliver better public health, improved quality of life and economic prosperity, as well as positive climate outcomes. This new report from The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) explores the emerging economic opportunities and challenges relating to the transition to low carbon, resource efficient economies in three core areas: energy efficiency in buildings, renewable energy, and mobility.

Aiming for Zero: Long-term certainty for economic prosperity

September 2018 – The Paris Agreement is a historic landmark for both international diplomacy and action on climate change. The Agreement sets out an ambition, and a framework, to limit climate change and global temperature rise to well below 2°C, with efforts to limit this to 1.5 °C. To be Paris compliant, and to have any hope of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 °C, it is clear from the latest science that global emissions must now fall to net-zero as early as possible in the second half of this century. For developed economies such as the EU’s, whose leadership is essential in this, the achievement of net zero emissions must therefore be by 2050 at the latest.

Renovation Roadmap: Making Europe’s homes fit for the 21st Century

April 2018 – This report draws on insights and experience from 12 businesses that are members of the CLG and its close network and are involved in energy-efficiency renovation of buildings. The report highlights the importance of renovating EU homes at scale in order to deliver on the Paris Agreement, putting forward recommendations for EU Member States and local governments to address these barriers and make the most of this opportunity.

Electric avenue: The future of road transport in Europe 

November 2017 – This report draws together insights from businesses and industry experts to map the trends toward electrification and automation in the road transport sector. It seeks to make a high-level assessment of the implications and opportunities for European businesses, as well as what policymakers need to do to respond to these trends. 

European industry in the 21st century: New models for resource productivity

September 2017 – This report is based on interviews with companies that are using circular economy principles to reduce their exposure to risk, and to access new markets. It discusses some of the successful transformations and changes made, obstacles faced, and potential policies for overcoming those obstacles.