Small businesses commit to cutting emissions
Recognising the importance and impact that small businesses can have on environmental goals, the government has launched the SME Climate Commitment – a new drive to encourage small and micro businesses to commit to cutting their emissions in half by 2030 and to net zero by 2050
As the UK’s 6 million small businesses make up 99 per cent of the UK’s enterprises, employ 60 per cent of the UK workforce and generate £2.2 trillion of revenue to the economy, it is crucial these enterprises take action and reduce their carbon footprint.
Recognising the importance and impact that small businesses can have on environmental goals, the government has launched the SME Climate Commitment - a new drive to encourage small and micro businesses to commit to cutting their emissions in half by 2030 and to net zero by 2050.
Those who make a net zero commitment on the UK Business Climate Hub will be recognised by the United Nations Race to Zero campaign and will become ‘climate leaders’ - role-modelling and inspiring others in the community to find meaningful ways to take positive environmental action as we approach the global climate summit COP26 hosted in Glasgow this year.
Small businesses can use the hub to find practical tools, resources and advice to understand their emissions and develop a plan to tackle them, as well as providing ideas for steps they can take.
Steps could include switching to electric vehicles and other cleaner forms of transport to reduce their carbon footprint, or introducing cycle to work schemes for employees, as well as other non-transport related measures.
The campaign will also provide small businesses with access to some of the UK’s biggest businesses – including NatWest, Google, Scottish Power and BT – and leading climate experts to support them in taking the simple and practical steps to protect the planet, and the benefits of future-proofing and growing a low carbon business. Partner support will include hosting a range of collaborative events throughout summer, creating a small business training programme on taking green actions, and using their high-profile digital channels to drive small business audiences to the climate hub.
Meeting small businesses
To mark the launch of the campaign, the Prime Minister and the Business and Energy Secretary met small and micro companies from across the UK and its economy who have already made a net zero commitment.
Business & Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and as we transition to a green future, they will also the backbone of the UK tackling climate change.
“There are huge opportunities for a small business to go green – not only playing their part in saving the planet from climate change but helping grow their business and ensuring it is fit for the future.
“Simple changes could differentiate a business from the competition, attract new customers and investment and save them money on their running costs. That is why I am urging the nation’s small businesses to sign up to become business climate leaders and lead the charge in protecting the future of our planet.”
COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma, said: “We are at a critical point for our planet, and to safeguard its future we must act now to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C. To do this, we need action from all of society including those small businesses that play such a vital role in our daily lives. The world is moving to a greener, brighter future, so please: do not get left behind. Ahead of COP26 in November, join the hundreds that have already done so and become a business climate leader.”
The UK’s Net Zero Business Champion Andrew Griffith said: “The UK business community has a unique opportunity to come together to tackle climate change. We all need to play our part, and as small businesses make up the majority of the UK’s business community it is critical that they get involved.
“There is a need for practical guidance on the simple steps businesses can take reduce their carbon footprint and the Together for our Planet climate leaders campaign will help provide just that.”
Access to big company expertise
The campaign will provide small businesses with access to some of the UK’s biggest businesses – including NatWest, Google, Scottish Power and BT – and leading climate experts to support them in taking the simple and practical steps to protect the planet, and the benefits of future-proofing and growing a low carbon business. Partner support will include hosting a range of collaborative events throughout summer, creating a small business training programme on taking green actions, and using their high-profile digital channels to drive small business audiences to the climate hub.
Philip Jansen, Chief Executive of BT Group, said: “BT has been taking action against climate change for nearly 30 years and we’ve pledged to be a net zero emissions business by 2045. All businesses, large and small, have an important role to play in reducing worldwide carbon emissions, so we’re urging our small business suppliers and customers to join us on the journey to net zero by signing up to the UK Business Climate Hub.
“A survey we recently carried out with Small Business Britain found that although 99 per cent of small firms recognise the importance of sustainability, three quarters of them (77 per cent) don’t know how to measure their carbon emissions and need support. The new UK Business Climate Hub, together with free webinars we’re offering through BT’s Skills for Tomorrow programme, will help more small firms take their first steps towards taking climate action that can make a difference.”
Chief executive Officer of NatWest Group Alison Rose said: “As the leading bank in the UK for businesses, we want to encourage, enable and lead the way in helping small businesses transition to a net zero carbon economy. From our recent SME Recovery Report, we know SMEs have the opportunity to help the UK meet its net zero targets by reducing their carbon footprint by 80 MtCO2e by 2030 through more sustainable business operating models.
“As COP26 principal banking partner, we’re proud to support the Together for our Planet Business Climate Leaders campaign and partner with the government on this important initiative, especially in the run up to November’s UN Climate Summit. We will be encouraging as many of our customers to sign up as possible.”
Ronan Harris, managing director & VP, Google UK and Ireland said: “Every email you send through gmail, every question you ask Google Search and every YouTube video you watch is already carbon neutral. But we know our impact is far greater when we are also helping others transition to a carbon-free world. That’s why we’re excited to be part of this important campaign and, as part of that, to offer small businesses across the UK new training that can help them increase their competitive advantage while protecting the planet.”
SMEs already going green
The are plenty of small businesses that are already making the leap to go green include. One such company is family-owned energy efficiency specialists SURE Solutions in Birkenhead on the Wirral. The company offers solutions to businesses using industrial refrigeration and has pledged to become net zero by 2025. The company has installed 70 solar panels on the roof of its offices and this year plans to install a hot water heat pump and electric vehicle charge points. This is on top of making sure it is recycling waste and replacing its vehicles with either electric or hybrid equivalents. The business also has plans to be carbon neutral through carbon offsetting by the end of the year through tree planting or similar.
Family-run wedding venue Hayne House, Hythe, Kent offers a sustainable option for weddings and receptions and has committed to cutting carbon emissions to zero by 2030, with the business believing it will have reduced emissions by 50 per cent by the end of next year. The business has already removed all single-use plastic, started replacing windows with ones that are more energy efficient and switched to a renewable energy supplier, installing a rainwater harvesting system to water the garden and reviewing procurement to include local and sustainable suppliers among others. The company plans to go further including installing a heat pump and electric charge points for vehicles, as well as increasing its solar energy production to power the whole site.
Founder of Small Business Britain Michelle Ovens CBE said: “The UK’s small business community can and will play a significant role in combatting climate change. Although individually small, collectively they have a huge impact on the economy, society and local communities. Working together, we can start the journey towards net zero, and Small Business Britain is committed to helping the nation’s businesses get there.
National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses Mike Cherry said: “Small business owners care passionately about the environment, and are keen to do the right thing to help our transition to Net Zero. The small firms and sole traders who make up the UK’s 6 million SMEs are now seeking help and guidance on what they can do. From those that have already started on this journey, we know that sustainability makes good business sense, too.
“This campaign marks the opportunity for small businesses to take the lead. As we emerge from the worst of COVID and look to secure our long-term future, now is the time for small businesses to take their first steps. At FSB we will be building on this campaign to share ideas and small-business-friendly guidance, that will reach small firms in local communities right across the UK.”