Education

Why it's important for SMEs to be net zero

Apr 20, 2021

Back in June 2019, the UK became the first major global economy to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by 2050. Here’s why it’s so important for the nation’s small-to-medium sized businesses to play their part when it comes to reaching net zero.

Why it's important for SMEs to be net zero

We’re halfway towards our target

New analysis released by Carbon Brief reveals that the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 were 51% below the levels recorded in 1990. Although this is promising news, much more will be needed to ensure we meet our goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

Whilst we all are all aware of the devastating impact Covid has had on UK businesses, the subsequent economic recovery presents us with an opportunity to build back our economy in a more sustainable manner.

As we cautiously emerge from the latest lockdown here in the UK, the SME community must now come together to focus on the post-covid recovery alongside our commitment to become net zero to ensure progress continues so that we can smash the 2050 target ⁠–⁠ or even better, reach it ahead of time!

Why must SMEs play their part?

The UK government is preparing to launch the world's most ambitious climate change target of cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels.

Alongside large corporations and individual consumers, SMEs are directly responsible for enabling the UK to reach these bold new carbon reduction targets. As a business owner, here’s why it’s so important for you to get on board without delay, if you aren’t already.

The numbers don’t lie

SMEs make up 97% of the UK economy and are responsible for a quarter of the UK’s emissions. Although 25% might seem low compared with the huge corporations that contribute more, by not cutting these emissions, the UK simply won’t meet its climate goals. 

It makes financial sense 

Going green can boost your business’ bottom line. Research shows that £3B worth of savings can be unlocked by the SME community if it takes simple energy efficient measures. 

Customers’ expectations are changing

When it comes to doing business, being low or zero carbon is quickly becoming a requirement rather than a choice.

Customers are pledging their loyalty to businesses embracing sustainable practices, products and services. Without committing to net zero, you’re potentially opting out of future trade. 

What can SMEs do to reach net zero?

As an SME business owner, it can be difficult to know where and how to begin. Here are some impactful ways to get your business started on its journey to net zero.

1. Measure your contribution 

The first step is to track your carbon outputs using simple measuring tools. After establishing an understanding of what your business contributes, you can start to pinpoint areas for improvement before coming up with a plan for how you’re going to achieve your goals. 

Offering your employees flexible working options can help reduce carbon-causing commutes while increasing overall productivity and motivation levels. 

2. Opt for sustainable infrastructure

Air conditioning units are huge CO2 culprits. Opt for open windows and fans where you can, and make sure your workspace’s heating and cooling systems are well maintained. 

When furnishing your premises, purchase items that are made from sustainable materials from suppliers that have a low or carbon neutral supply chain. 

3. Recycle and reuse

Recycling is relatively easy to implement. Invest in recycled paper and materials, introduce recycling bins and ban single use plastics where possible. 

You can even encourage your employees to lower their own personal greenhouse gas emissions by providing vegan and vegetarian catering options.

4. Join net zero initiatives

There are lots of initiatives out there that have been set up to help organisations achieve net zero. Take the Mayor of London’s Business Climate Challenge, for example.  

Emissions from heating and powering commercial and industrial buildings contribute to 36% of London’s carbon footprint. With this in mind, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan recently launched his new programme to help businesses in the capital achieve London’s target of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2030.  

A number of SMEs have already signed up for the pilot. 

As the country emerges from the coronavirus lockdown, we are here to support the growth of your business and help you secure cash flow headroom. If your company needs finance to help it recover, see what you could be eligible for today.

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