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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)


December 2020 – CISL’s Net Zero Framework for Business is designed for those companies tasked with delivering net zero in a business context and/or influencing the societal transition towards this ambition. By drawing on a range of leading frameworks and CISL’s insights, it provides a ‘one-stop-shop’ for the key tasks that need to be set in place to align with net zero.

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Companies will be at different stages of the journey towards implementing these tasks. For those that are already well advanced, the framework will serve as a useful benchmark to determine the priorities for further action. For others where climate action has not yet been a priority, it will serve as a ‘road map’ for urgent action.

The framework is motivated by the need for holistic guidance. It sets out practical advice for all types of companies, regardless of sector or size. While the scale and complexity may vary, the overall agenda for action is similar. By drawing on a range of leading frameworks and CISL’s insights, the framework provides a ‘one-stop-shop’ for the four key tasks that we believe need to be set in place to align with net zero.


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This framework covers everything from strategy and governance to setting evidence-based targets and engaging external stakeholders. For this reason, it provides a comprehensive approach for anyone leading a business’s overall net zero strategy. For managers tasked with delivering specific components of a net zero agenda (such as in operations, procurement, human resources, external affairs or research and development), meanwhile, it provides a useful context for their contribution. In all cases, it can increase confidence by providing clear alignment with emergent best practice and, more generally, a beacon for the road ahead.

Citing this briefing

Please refer to this publication as University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). (2020). Targeting Net Zero A strategic framework for business action. Cambridge, UK: the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

Learn to build a business model that is resilient and profitable in the low carbon, resource-efficient economy of the 21st century in CISL’s Business and Climate Change online short course.