A buzz-phrase has emerged within the environmental and carbon reduction conversation over the last two years: “net zero”.
Previously, businesses were striving to be “carbon neutral”, but net zero goes one step further and has replaced the former as the ultimate emissions goal.
The difference is the approach to carbon offsetting. A business could, in theory, become carbon neutral without reducing their carbon emissions at all and simply pay to offset all of their emissions through carbon credits.
Net zero means they have reduced all but their absolutely essential emissions and have offset the remaining balance.
The big picture
The UK has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions as a whole by 78% by 2035. The latest carbon budget in April 2021 specified the country’s aviation and shipping targets for the first time and enshrined the 2035 targets in law.
The ultimate target is for the country to achieve net zero by 2050.
These targets were created in line with recommendations from the UK’s Independent Climate Change Committee (ICCC).
The worldwide equivalent of that organisation, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), made major headlines last week with a startling report that the planet’s slide towards a destructive two-degrees Celsius rise in temperature has accelerated.
This milestone is now projected to be reached by 2040 and the report is expected to press the world’s most powerful governments to increase measures to tackle this.
What this means for UK businesses
Larger UK businesses are already required to monitor their energy usage through legislation such as the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) and other reporting mechanisms via their energy suppliers.
Those businesses can expect further pressure to not only measure and report their emissions, but to reduce them. High-emissions sectors such as automotive have already been given significant ultimatums from the government, such as a ban on the sale of pure internal combustion cars in 2030.
The first step towards net zero has to be a baseline measurement of carbon footprints. But the problem is that the expertise is not widely available and businesses are still trying to overcome the financial and operational impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Indirect elements of a business’ carbon footprint are particularly difficult to measure, which requires businesses to engage their entire workforce and supply chain in the process. Businesses cannot tackle this massive report on their own.
Considerations for your net zero strategy
Radical change often requires investment. On a micro level this can apply to individual businesses attempting to reduce their emissions through financing for renewable installations, changes to practices and other consumption habits.
On a macro level this will need to be reflected by the government. The ICCC’s net zero report recommends a green initiative funding review and installation of frameworks that strike a balance between meaningful action and fairness to businesses with regards to impact on operations.
Agile and innovative businesses should see any new directives as an opportunity to gain competitive advantages. Pro-active organisations may well take matters into their own hands and develop a roadmap to net zero themselves. After all, environmental credentials are increasingly important to B2B and B2C customers.
We can help you plot your route to net zero
If you want to know how your organisation can reach net zero, Great Annual Savings Group (GAS) is the perfect partner to support you on that journey.
We can help you create a holistic net zero strategy and we do not charge for many of these services for those businesses who are already GAS customers.
- Carbon footprint measurement and baselines
- Monitoring and targeting systems
- Energy audits to identify recommended strategies
- Renewable feasibility studies
- Renewable financing and installation
- Purchases of carbon credits for offsetting
- Procurement of green energy
- Legislative obligations