The tools needed to cut carbon
The newly formed UK Business Climate Hub is the net-zero information portal, optimised to help SMEs reduce their carbon footprint in areas such as transport and energy. Chris Taylor, net zero director at the Broadway Initiative, explains how it works
The journey to net zero and the new technologies, skills and emerging markets that journey entails can feel overwhelming for any business, but perhaps more so for the 5.5 million SMEs that make up the backbone of the UK economy. Yet it is precisely these businesses that must be at the heart of the green transition and these businesses that stand to gain from the energy cost savings that can be achieved by reducing their carbon footprint. That is why the UK government and all major business associations have aligned for the first time behind one single point of net zero information and advice for SMEs: the UK Business Climate Hub.
The UK Business Climate Hub is the net zero information portal that has been developed for your business. The Hub is a collaboration between the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, the SME Climate Hub and a wide array of the UK’s business organisations, energy networks, banks and professional bodies operating under the umbrella of the Broadway Initiative.
The Hub was launched earlier this month (14th August) and is managed by the Broadway Initiative.
Helping SMEs to reduce emissions
The Hub is optimised to help SMEs across the UK reduce their carbon footprint, by offering free tools and support that address some of the unique challenges and barriers that your business may face in reducing emissions.
The Hub’s ‘Take Action’ guides are free tools that help to address vital areas such as electric vehicles and transport, renewable energy and waste and recycling where businesses can gain insight into cutting their emissions. These guides provide concise summaries of what actions to take and next steps, helping businesses who have already identified where to focus to move forward rapidly.
For those of you who are less sure about where to start, the UK Business Climate Hub site has links to several free carbon footprint calculators. Carbon calculators use information you provide about your business, such as electricity use, fuel consumption, refrigerant top-ups and other activities, to estimate your carbon footprint. Carbon calculators can then create a personalised dashboard, presenting a breakdown of your business’s current emissions and helping identify where these emissions are highest and what actions could result in the biggest cost and carbon savings.
This journey will likely lead to your fleet and transport operation. Transport is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions for the UK so by reducing transport emissions, businesses can have a significant impact on our overall carbon footprint.
The UK Business Climate Hub identifies a wide variety of ways your business can reduce emissions, from advice on behavioural changes that will decrease fuel consumption to guidance on navigating large-scale changes such as upgrading to an electric fleet. It lays out upcoming policy changes in the UK, changes that might support you in making changes in your business or create new obligations or opportunities that you will want to be aware of.
If you are looking to decarbonise your existing fleet, or you have a fleet that is near the end of its life cycle, switching to electric vehicles is a significant step to cutting emissions. While the switch to an electric fleet may seem daunting and brings its own obstacles, such as access to EV chargepoints on site or funding for a new fleet, the Business Climate Hub offers resources to help you meet these challenges.
The financial barrier
Of course, for many SMEs, financing their switch to new technologies or upgrades to their existing facilities remains the top barrier on their net zero journey. The UK Business Climate Hub is here to help. The Hub lists sources for finance and support that you can use to enable changes to your business, including grant schemes available in different parts of the UK and local programmes offering advice and finance support.
For example, you might have decided to take the plunge and switch to an electric fleet. The site will link you to the UK government’s plug-in grant for commercial EVs, outline what sort of funding is available for different vehicles and how businesses can benefit. The Hub might point you to the government’s local electric vehicle infrastructure fund, which supports local authorities in England to work with the chargepoint industry to roll out local charging infrastructure.
Whatever your particular need, the UK Business Climate Hub will help direct you to information on applications, working with local authorities and any other steps you may want to take to secure support.
The UK Business Climate Hub is the UK partner of the SME Climate Hub, the global initiative founded by the We Mean Business Coalition and the Exponential Roadmap Initiative that empowers SMEs to take climate action and make the SME Climate Commitment. The SME Climate Commitment is an internationally recognised public commitment you can make to demonstrate to your clients and your community that you are taking steps to do your part to address the climate emergency.
The UK Business Climate Hub forms one plank in the work of the newly established Net Zero Council. Hosted by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, the Net Zero Council aims to support businesses on their road to net zero by developing sector roadmaps that lay out key actions for businesses and government to take to reach net zero in every area of the economy. For example, the British Retail Consortium’s roadmap is already of particular interest to the haulage and transport industry, as it lays out the retail sector’s plans for the transition to low carbon logistics. The roadmap identifies key barriers to decarbonising logistics and a further call to action for the role of government in supporting the sector’s net zero agenda.
The roadmaps will develop and continue to inform the decarbonisation of fleets across the country. Already the UK Business Climate Hub is here to provide information to businesses wanting to transition to net zero, while also offering practical steps that ensure SMEs are not left behind in the transitioning economy. From upgrading to a low-carbon fleet, to managing their waste and cutting energy costs, the UK Business Climate Hub is here to support you every step of the way.