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Accelerating UK Corporate Decarbonisation

Numerous UK companies have begun measuring and disclosing their carbon emissions. However, some are facing challenges in delivering on their emissions reduction commitments despite persistent stakeholder pressure to decarbonise.

Nonetheless, leaders are emerging. Some companies are successfully meeting their decarbonisation targets, providing valuable lessons for others to follow.

Written in collaboration with

Written in collaboration with


In 2023, CDP and Bain & Company partnered to examine the decarbonisation journeys of UK-based companies. This report builds on those findings and our prior analyses of disclosure, ambition, and delivery trends.

We have identified five key findings on the progress being made and effective actions to accelerate decarbonisation:

  1. Measurement and disclosure of emissions increased. Since 2022, emissions disclosures increased by 24%. However, we need more Scope 3 disclosures in upstream and downstream categories to fully understand the scale of the challenge. Only 56% of companies disclosed Scope 3 emissions vs. 74% for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.
  2. Target-setting has stalled. Only a third of UK companies that disclosed their emissions set reduction targets, and the ambition of those targets has remained flat.
  3. Progress on delivery is slowing. In 2023, the average decarbonisation for Scopes 1 and 2 was 6% per annum (p.a.), and for Scope 3, it was 2% p.a. In comparison, in 2022, Scope 1 and 2 reductions were 9% p.a. and Scope 3 reductions were 8% p.a. (see Figure 1). Slower progress increases the risk of companies missing their targets in the future.  
  4. Climate transition plans accelerate decarbonisation: Organizations with climate transition plans demonstrated faster decarbonisation. They achieved 8.3% decarbonisation p.a. compared to 3.9% p.a. for companies without climate transition plans. When climate transition plans were supported by a subset of key enablers, the decarbonisation of organisations accelerated even further (by 3 to 6 percentage points p.a., see Figure 2).
  5. Link to value creation accelerates decarbonisation. Leading UK companies are incorporating decarbonisation into their core business strategies to create value. Companies that identify financial opportunities reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions faster by 2 to 3 percentage points p.a.
Figure 1

Delivery across scopes 1, 2, and 3 (between base and reporting year, select industries only)

Delivery across scopes 1, 2, and 3 (between base and reporting year, select industries only)
Figure 2

Decarbonisation rates across climate transition plan enablers (between base and reporting year)

Decarbonisation rates across climate transition plan enablers (between base and reporting year)

Recommendations for UK corporations

Disclosure and target-setting are necessary first steps, but leading UK corporates follow best practices throughout the journey from disclosure to delivery.

  • Disclose: Leading companies disclose their climate emissions for Scopes 1, 2, and 3, and they comprehensively report on upstream and material downstream Scope 3 categories.
  • Set ambitions: Leaders set ambitious decarbonisation targets that cover all Scopes and both near- and long-term horizons.
  • Deliver: Successful companies develop credible climate transition plans. Their plans are equipped with key enablers and are linked to value creation to identify financial uplift opportunities.

Companies need to go beyond the basics to understand their climate impact across the value chain. They can then integrate key decarbonisation tactics into core business strategies. By linking decarbonisation plans to value creation, UK-based companies can effectively reduce their emissions and achieve better financial results.

About CDP

CDP is a global non-profit that runs the world’s environmental disclosure system for companies, cities, states and regions. Founded in 2000 and working with more than 740 financial institutions with over $136 trillion in assets, CDP pioneered using capital markets and corporate procurement to motivate companies to disclose their environmental impacts, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard water resources and protect forests. Over 24,000 organizations around the world disclosed data through CDP in 2023, with more than 23,000 companies—including listed companies worth two thirds global market capitalization—and over 1,100 cities, states, and regions. Fully TCFD-aligned, CDP holds the largest environmental database in the world, and CDP scores are widely used to drive investment and procurement decisions towards a zero carbon, sustainable, and resilient economy. CDP is a founding member of the Science Based Targets initiative, We Mean Business Coalition, The Investor Agenda, and the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative. Visit cdp.net or follow @CDP to find out more.


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