More energy and natural resource executives expect world to reach net zero by 2060 or later

Bain & Company’s fourth annual Energy & Natural Resource Executive Survey shows an increasing percentage of industry executives expect the world to reach net zero by 2060 or later—with 62% sharing this sentiment in 2024 versus 54% in 2023.

Bain & Company surveyed over 600 industry executives* across the globe to better understand industry leaders’ views on the energy transition, new technologies, and investment opportunities, and where they see the greatest challenges for decarbonization.

“This year’s survey found that energy and natural resource companies have not dampened ambitions for their transition-oriented growth businesses. However, customers’ willingness to pay is a growing issue, as is the ability to generate adequate return on investment (ROI) in energy transition-oriented projects. As a result, companies are focusing on projects with a viable ROI path,” said Joe Scalise, head of Bain & Company’s Energy and Natural Resource practice, based in San Francisco.

Eric Beranger, partner and head of the Energy & Natural Resources practice in the Middle East for Bain & Company, noted, “The Middle East stands out in the energy sector thanks to its access to capital, top-tier infrastructure, and decisive governance. These strengths position the region as a leader in adopting low-carbon energy solutions and the global energy trade.” Raja Atoui, a partner and member of Bain & Company’s Energy & Natural Resources and Sustainability & Responsibility practices further added, “The region’s journey towards a sustainable energy future is marked by significant strides in energy efficiency improvement, renewable energy adoption, and sustainable fuels development. By prioritizing these areas, the Middle East not only contributes to global efforts against climate change but also secures a competitive edge in the evolving global energy landscape, demonstrating a commitment to innovation and sustainability that resonates worldwide.” The Bain report highlighted the following key themes for 2024:

1. Fewer executives expect the world to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Despite energy and natural resource companies’ continued investments in decarbonization, about 62% of executives now anticipate the world will reach net zero by 2060 or later, up from 54% in last year’s survey. This view is consistent across most regions and is most strongly held among oil and gas executives.

2. Most companies are maintaining or increasing investments in their transition-oriented growth businesses.

Executives in the Middle East (61%), Asia-Pacific (55%), and Latin America (51%) are feeling more optimistic about the prospects of their transition-oriented growth such as renewables,

hydrogen, bio-based products, lithium, and other transition commodities that will contribute to their company’s valuation and profits by 2030. Hence, they are maintaining or increasing green investments.

3. Executives are more concerned than ever about generating acceptable returns to scale up their transition-related businesses.

Like last year, executives say the greatest obstacle to scaling up their transition-oriented businesses is finding enough customers willing to pay higher prices (or having equivalent policy support) to create sufficient return on investment. In fact, the share of executives identifying this as a very significant roadblock jumped 14 percentage points from 2023 to 2024, to 70% of executives.

4. Artificial intelligence is increasingly seen as a difference maker.

More executives (65% in 2024) believe AI (including generative AI) and digital technologies will have a significant effect on their businesses by 2030 compared to 56% last year.

The most promising AI applications include improving maintenance, production, and the supply chain, while emissions reduction is seen as the least promising.

Most companies are focusing first on applications with a clearer, shorter path to a return on investment. Over time, Bain expects the industry to pursue more advanced and potentially higher-value use cases, such as increasingly automated design and engineering work.


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