Your next steps

Module four

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of our toolkit and have made a great start to taking action against climate change. Take a moment to look at your achievements - you’ve already achieved so much. You understand the importance of net zero, have measured your carbon footprint and have set an action plan.

What’s next? This isn’t the end of your net zero journey as there’s still lots to do before you reach net zero. Here are some suggestions.

  • Keep reducing! The single most important action you can take is to keep reducing your emissions. To meet your net zero target and the UK’s net zero target you need to reduce your emissions to the absolute minimum. Explore the different organisations in our toolkit to help guide you.
  • Keep on top of new developments. There’s constant innovation and advances in technology that can help you reduce your emissions. Use industry bodies and your networks to keep on top of new trends and solutions.
  • Measure your carbon footprint annually. You’ll be able to compare data each year to assess where you’ve made reductions and what areas you’ll need to focus on reducing.
  • Improve and expand your carbon footprint data. You’ll get better at measuring your carbon footprint each time you do it and you may include more elements, so don’t be disheartened if your carbon footprint increases. You just need to be transparent and communicate the reason for the increase.
  • Disclose your progress annually. Being transparent and sharing your journey is so important to encourage others and to prevent greenwashing.
  • Once you’ve measured your first few carbon footprints, start thinking about life-cycle analysis of products and embodied carbon. It’s a technical process that we’re not suggesting you start straight away, but it’s useful to understand that carbon is linked to a product at various points and not just at your point of use. Are there ways you can reduce embodied carbon? Here are two examples:
    • Retrofit a building instead of demolishing it and rebuilding.
    • Use items until the end of their life instead of disposing of usable items and purchasing new more efficient ones. The emissions associated with manufacturing the new product and disposing the old one could outweigh your emissions reduction of using the more energy efficient item.
  • Once you’ve measured your first few carbon footprints, start thinking about the climate resilience of your business – it’s important for futureproofing. You’ll then be able to prepare for and respond to detrimental events related to climate change.
  • Educate others and don’t assume prior knowledge. This could be from your supply chain, to other businesses, even to family. Sharing the information you’ve learnt will help spread awareness of the climate crisis and should encourage others into action.
  • Look back at our climate action toolkit. We’ll continually be updating resources as the net zero agenda evolves.
  • Join Heart of the City’s foundation programme. Continue your journey on our foundation programme which has an environmental focus alongside people, community and purpose. You’ll have access to 1:1 support through a membership manager and also learn from our ambassador experts at events.

Always remember why you’re on a net zero journey. You’re taking action against climate change to limit global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. It won’t always be easy, but as long as you’re making progress and moving in the right direction you’re contributing to positive change.

This was last updated in September 2021 by Heart of the City. We’ve created these resources for individual SMEs to use. None of our content is to be adapted, reused or repurposed for commercial use.

Climate for SMEs: 4 Steps to Action is funded by the City of London Corporation in support of its Climate Action Strategy targets for a net zero and resilient Square Mile.