How to join the race to net zero

The deadline for net zero carbon emissions has been set by the UK Government for 2050, but what does that mean for you and your business? And how do you get on the path to achieve it?

Our climate champion, Richard Hagan, the MD of Crystal Doors, has put together a step-by-step guide to inspire and engage independent KBB retailers to reduce their carbon footprint in a bid to help the environment and their bottom line 

The UK Government has committed to reduce carbon emissions to ‘net zero’ by 2050. More than 90% of the world’s governments have aset similar targets. This means that for every kilogram of carbon put into the air, another must be removed. All businesses will need to contribute to achieving net zero. Increasingly, as the deadline gets nearer, your customers and Government regulations will require you to take action to reduce your carbon footprint. 

What does net zero mean for KBB retailers? 

The shifting competitive landscape that comes with a net zero economy presents vast opportunities for SMEs. From locksmiths to coffee shops, marketing agencies to independent KBB retailers, SMEs come in all shapes and sizes and contribute to society in unique ways. 

However, the one constant is their contribution to climate change. Overall, not only do SMEs make up more than 99% of all businesses in the UK, but they are also contributing to 50% of all business and industrial emissions. 

The UN’s recent research article – The People’s Climate Vote – has shown that, of the people who believe in climate change, 77% of the UK believe we need to do “everything necessary, urgently” to fix the climate crisis. With this comes a shift in buyer behaviour towards those that are minimising their impacts. In a nutshell, UK customers are demanding sus–tainable products and services. 

On the other hand, the largest businesses in the UK will be required to disclose their strategy and approach to reducing climatic risks, meaning that climate change becomes fundamental to business conversations around finance, lending, procurement and supply chain decisions. 

The challenge ahead is one that grows exponentially as action is delayed. Taking action now ensures your business is not an upstream or downstream climatic risk to your customers and stakeholders. 

You might also like:   Kohler Mira aims to be carbon-neutral by 2035

Take action: how to start your net zero journey 

Net zero can be accomplished by the following four steps. This methodology is standards-aligned, ahead of com-pliance and in many cases, will be cash-positive. 

Measure: The first step is to measure and record your emissions in an annual carbon footprint report so you can track your progress and demonstrate it to others. Start simple – transport, heating, lighting and energy are likely to be your biggest offenders, so focus on them. You can use free online carbon footprint calculators to help you, like the Carbon Trust’s calculator for SMEs [https://www.carbontrust.com/resources/sme-carbon-footprint-calculator]

Reduce: Implement actions that reduce your energy and carbon consumption and that will lead to financial savings to help you reinvest in future projects. 

Renew: Reduce your reliance on fossil fuels and investigate new technologies that create zero carbon emissions, such as electrification of processes, adapting your operations to fit within the circular economy. 

Rebalance: Once the previous three stages have been implemented and it is no longer financially viable to reduce your footprint any further, you can consider your options to offset your remaining carbon balance. Pop–ular methods include planting trees or carbon capture and storage.  

Picking the right path 

As a business owner, reducing your carbon and energy consumption is the priority, these projects yield the financial benefits and will finance the latter stages of the journey. Offsetting alone does not stop carbon from being emitted and therefore is not a viable strategy to achieve net zero. Similarly, the future price of carbon and projected increase in price of carbon offsets means that this is also not a financially viable option.

Simple steps to engage employees in the journey

  1. Define the company’s long-term purpose
  2. Spell out the economic case for sustainability 
  3. Create sustainability knowledge and competence
  4. Make every employee a sustainable champion 
  • Every day in the week leading up to World Environment Day, we are publishing stories from the KBB industry to do with the environment, sustainability, and water saving. To read more articles on this topic go to www.kbbreview.com/?s=sustainability

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