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The impact of climate change from human activity such as carbon emissions has become one of the most pressing issues facing humanity in the 21st Century. With a renewed political focus on reducing carbon emissions and greenhouse gases(GHGs) – the UK government has committed to a legally binding target of net zero emissions by 2050 – smaller businesses are being seen as pivotal in the race to net zero.

Smaller businesses are a major source of emissions in the UK. Research by the British Business Bank found that smaller businesses account for 50% of all UK business-driven emissions. While 57% of smaller businesses reported they were aware of the government’s 2050 net zero target, the same research found that 76% of smaller businesses have yet to implement a decarbonisation strategy.

Costs, lack of appropriate technology, infrastructure or vehicles, and an inability to find information on net zero were cited by smaller businesses as some of the barriers to preventing action on becoming net zero.

What is net zero for smaller businesses?

Net zero means that the amount of carbon and GHGs added to the atmosphere are equal to the amount removed. An example of net zero activities would be a smaller business using renewable energy sources or planting trees to offset carbon emissions created through business activities such as transport or shipping.

To help combat the rise in greenhouse gas emissions, companies can explore adopting sustainable practices and reducing carbon emissions. Net zero activities can encompass a range of business operations and practices, including:

  • business products and services – such as products made from sustainable materials
  • premises and operations – such as workplaces being effectively insulated and employees encouraged to use public transport
  • distribution and shipping – such as packaging made from recycled materials or deliveries made via electric vehicles.

Even the smallest businesses can reduce their carbon emissions, and nearly half (47%) of smaller businesses state that carbon reduction is a high or very high priority.

The good news is that there may be a whole range of benefits for businesses that embrace net zero – from boosting your reputation, reducing costs through wastage, and protecting your business from over-reliance on fluctuating fossil fuel-based energy supplies.

How net zero can help your business

Aside from helping improve the world’s environment, adopting net zero strategies may help your business grow, save money, and boost business resilience.

Studies by DeloitteLink opens in a new window have shown that 55% of consumers have chosen food and non-alcoholic beverage brands that have environmentally sustainable values and practices, for example. The same report found that 32% of consumers would be prepared to pay more for goods and services if it ensured brands reduced their carbon footprint. Re-evaluating your strategy and implementing a more carbon neutral plan may therefore benefit your company.

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