What you need to know about navigating net zero

Heart of the City | 23 March 2022 | News
What you need to know about navigating net zero

Hot on the heels of COP26, 2022 is set to be a catalyst year for businesses getting to grips with (or continuing their journey to) net zero. Targets are inching closer, and some are even being accelerated; London alone is looking to put the pedal down and bring their net zero target forward to 2030.

Going green matters, no doubt about it. But how to go green? That’s a much stickier challenge.

Sustainability feels right, but it also pays off: the business case is below. We unpick the ‘how’ and give practical ideas for what you and your business can do right now, along with all the links to get – or keep – going.

The business case

COP26 wasn’t the only accelerator to the net zero cause. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, a raft of research is showing an increasing shift in mindset and behaviour of clients, consumers and the wider public. Appetite for net zero is ripe and people are hungry.

One study featured by Circular, found that 80% of people now plan to buy from businesses that they know are making efforts to be environmentally friendly, and that people are willing to pay up to 3% more for sustainable goods. Research from Accenture last year echoes this, finding that buying behaviour is shifting away from prioritising price and quality, with 65% of respondents saying that they’re attracted to brands that are environmentally friendly.

And it’s not just clients and consumers. Research from EON found that 76% of small businesses they spoke to (of a pool of 800) said that they believed they “would have a stronger appeal to their customers if they could improve their environmental credentials”. If you’re here, maybe this resonates.

A staggering 99.9% of the UK economy is made up of SMEs (including micro businesses). The possibilities of collective action toward net zero are huge. The time is right to get going.

Going green 101

Many businesses are already addressing sustainability – whether you’re recycling in the office, using LED lights, or setting up working committees to embed green policies. We want to amplify the work you’re already doing, so here are some practical tips to ignite new ideas to start, or continue, your company’s journey to go green. These are all taken from our free climate action toolkit for SMEs and our climate action course for SMEs.

  • Consider your physical environment, at home and in the office
    The impact of using a green energy supplier can’t be underestimated. Where you source your energy from will directly feed into your carbon emissions and you’ll see this in black and white when you’re collecting data to measure your footprint. So, whether this is the supplier for your main office or for colleagues working at home, look for where you can access green energy and make the change.
  • Revisit how you use everyday business technology
    Sending an email of four or fewer words emits approximately 1g of CO2, and a standard email emits approximately 4g of CO2. Limiting reply all and sending links instead of attachments are two quick fire ways to turn the dial down on email related carbon emissions. If you use Teams, Zoom or an equivalent, blurring your background reduces the bandwidth and so reduces your energy consumption. Choosing green search engines such Ecosia, that have embedded reforestation principles, will help offset the impact of your online activity.
  • Plan your carbon journey and bring people with you
    Engage with colleagues who’re already interested in sustainability and want to be part of the step change within your business. People are your movers and shakers and engaging their desire for change through activities like forming a green committee, with ownership over your go-green process, will mean you can amplify behaviour change more broadly, more quickly.
  • Consider your own supply chain
    Share your work, insights and experience with your supply chain. This will help mitigate business risk by helping other companies be more sustainable, and align your work and ethos. Creating these reciprocal relationships will also mean that in turn, you’re helping to reduce your own scope 3 emissions.
  • Access green funding
    A huge benefit of taking your business green is the literal wealth of opportunities it can bring. As you take action, you’ll be eligible to secure funding from sources such as the Clean Growth Fund and Carbon Trust Green Business Fund, to name just two.

These ideas are just the tip of the (melting) iceberg. Take a look at our  climate action toolkit. We’ve designed it to take SMEs from the start of understanding net zero terms, right through to achieving net zero.

We also run a fully-funded online course for any small or medium-sized businesses based, or with substantial operations in, the City of London to get them to net zero in time. Created with experts in sustainability and SMEs’ insight, the course is a blend of hands-on, practical support to help you measure your carbon footprint, and write and road-test your net zero strategy, alongside self-paced and self-directed learning.

Running a business in 2022 is a tough juggling act. As we recover from the pandemic, and people evaluate what matters to them at home and in work, there is a key role that going green can play in igniting collective, positive action, contributing to business purpose and resilience, and simply being part of doing the right thing; for people, planet and the bottom line.

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