Net zero pathways

Climate change will disrupt your business systems and affect your bottom line, but forward-looking organisations are already planning and implementing net zero strategies to turn threat into opportunity – reducing risks to their business operations and increasing their resilience and adaptability.

Our expertise

When planned for effectively, your organisation's net zero transition will not only help to protect you from the negative impacts of climate change, but also:
•    Demonstrate sustainability leadership 
•    Satisfy your investors, customers and employees
•    Minimise the risk of disruption to your business operations
•    Improve the resilience of your supply chain
•    Increase your adaptability to future legislation
•    Provide you with a market differentiator
•    Reduce your energy bills

We can support you with reducing Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions.

With Ricardo’s tried and tested six-step approach to net zero you can be confident that your roadmap will get you to net zero in the timeframe expected by your investors, employees and customers - in ways that minimise costs and maximise savings.

6 steps to net zero

Get in touch to discuss your net zero journey

The starting point for your journey to net zero is to understand your current emissions. Whether you want to work from an existing carbon footprint for your baseline year or complex, Scope 3 emissions, Ricardo can help.   

Since 1982, we have calculated the carbon emissions factors for the UK. These factors are used by the UK Government to report to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and to assess the UK’s progress toward its domestic carbon emissions reduction targets.

Working with Ricardo – as an authority on emissions factors, modelling and accountability – you can rest assured that your net zero roadmap is based on an accurate calculation of your current emissions baseline.   

From installing renewables to fuel switching to carbon offsetting, there are lots of ways to get to net zero. With a full understanding of your carbon emissions, we will model different mitigation pathways using our Net Zero Gap Analysis tool. We will consider the realistic impact of each scenario on energy use, carbon emissions and costs to give greater certainty on the impact of different mitigation measures and investment timelines.   

Our detailed understanding of a range of solutions across different areas such as heat, transport, buildings and waste allows us to carry out this analysis.

Scotch Whisky Association net zero gap analysis

Whisky distillation is an energy intensive process. With some processes not having changed in over 100 years, innovation will be required to deliver net zero. 

Ricardo has helped the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) to identify actions that will move the sector towards a low carbon future. We have calculated the sector’s baseline carbon footprint, projected business as usual emissions and produced technology roadmaps using our Net Zero Gap Analysis tool to develop net zero scenarios.

Our work has provided the SWA with costed technical solutions for decarbonising the sector and a list of policy options with which to lobby government to support sector decarbonisation.


What does your roadmap to net zero look like? How does it compare with forecast business-as-usual carbon emissions? We’ll show you your net zero emissions trajectory, identify interim targets and forecast any residual emissions that will require offsetting.

All Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions sources can be included, and projected future growth of your organisation will be taken into account.

The output of steps 1 to 3 is your net zero roadmap. It includes:

  • A responsibilities, resource allocation and organisational structure.
  • A carbon footprint summary that compares the outcomes of various options with those of the business-as-usual scenario.
  • Outputs of the net zero gap analysis modelling.
  • Outputs from heating, cooling, electrical and transport energy options assessments complete with recommendations.
  • Recommended net zero pathway and targets, grouped by operational area.

Our team can deliver internal communications, awareness raising activities and training workshops to support the launch of your net zero roadmap.

UK Water net zero roadmap
The water sector uses a lot of energy to collect, purify, supply and process water. It has embedded ways of delivering services, supplying water and treating wastewater, so innovation is going to be required to achieve net zero.

Ricardo is working with UK Water to 
•    Secure agreement on industry-wide targets.
•    Establish a baseline for the sector’s carbon footprint.
•    Identify mitigation options and establish an offsetting strategy.

Our work is providing cross-sector agreement on UK Water's roadmap to decarbonisation.

A broad range of stakeholders from across your organisation will be involved in ensuring your journey to net zero is a success. From estate, transport and waste teams to internal and external policy and procurement practices, there is a lot of change to bring about.

Many of your stakeholders may not have had any involvement in carbon reduction activities, which presents challenges. Therefore, it is important to build a strong governance structure to take your net zero initiative forward.

We can help you ensure your governance structure is designed around key principles of accountability, transparency and participation.

During a feasibility study, we will examine all your options for energy efficiency, decarbonisation of electricity, heating and transport. Our technology diagnostic approach ensures that your net zero targets can be met realistically while minimising risk and cost. 

Our breadth of technical expertise spans the energy, waste, transport and water sectors. This enables us to evaluate all options and identify the most suitable path for you to implement, while working with facilities management contractors to verify the viability of projects.

The outcome of the prioritisation from a list of identified measures feeds into your overall outline plan and recommendations.

The timing of implementation is the critical component of the roadmap. Therefore, the plan will include the recommended timescale for each major measure, setting out the critical path to implementation, while taking into account their priority, urgency and interplay with other measures, as well as the technology’s commercial readiness.

As well as providing the net zero strategy and plan, we can also: 

  • Support the presentation of your net zero roadmap to your board for signoff.
  • Work with the internal lead to drive implementation.
  • Set action owners to work.
  • Communicate your net zero strategy to stakeholders and clients through meetings, your website and the annual report.
  • Monitor and report on progress.

In addition to the traditional funding routes, we also research and review other funding options, including innovation funding, which we will discuss with you.

Ricardo’s Net Zero Gap Analysis Tool enables you to understand your current emissions and to model mitigation measures to determine the best and most cost-effective routes to net zero.
Ricardo’s experts will work with your organisation using the tool to establish your current GHG emissions and determine a business as usual pathway should you take no action. This is your net zero gap.

Our experts will then work with you to model the impact of implementing mitigation measures on your GHG emissions to allow you to compare the cost of multiple different pathways, enabling you to make informed decisions on the most effective course of action to meet your targets and satisfy invested stakeholders.

Environmental Meeting
Net zero pathways


This service is offered within the following sectors.

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Net zero pathways Resources

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Ricardo study supports UK waste sector’s road to net zero

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The race to net zero – accelerating the UK’s net-zero target with a new interim plan for 2035

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Meet the experts

Rankin Erika

Erika Rankin

Carbon Management Technical Lead

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Gaisford Charles

Charles Gaisford

Associate Director

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Jamie Pitcairn

Jamie Pitcairn

Technical Director for Corporate Sustainability

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Sm30 Morris S Jpg Crp 1

Simon Morris

Airport and aviation sustainability specialist

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