26 for COP26: 26 ways businesses can get help to reach net zero

Nina Skubala
Head of Climate Strategy | Business West
9th November 2021

COP26 is considered to be the most important meeting to secure the future of our planet. It is a gathering of world leaders and influential politicians; the topic of discussion is the measures that will be taken to limit warming to below 2C. This year, the UK is hosting the summit in Glasgow running from 31 October - 12 November 2021. 

Our survey in May discovered that 70% of respondents consider climate change to be a business issue, with 50% already having plans to take some measures to reduce their carbon emissions over the next 12 months. Research from our own survey, British Chambers of Commerce and Broadway Initiative suggests that values are driving businesses to act in addition to increasing customer and staff expectations. There are barriers, however, that hinder business progress, these include financing measures to decarbonise, lacking in house expertise and competing priorities.

At the COP26 Green Zone Roadshow hosted in Bristol by Bristol City Council and Business West, the 250 strong audience heard about just some of the support available across the West Country to help make progress to net zero.

Here are 26 places businesses can turn for support on their journey to net zero.

1) Business West has created a Trading To Net Zero hub that helps businesses in the region by signposting them to available resources and support as they embark on their journey to net zero. We will soon be launching a carbon footprinting offer and workshops to help businesses make progress. Business West also offers start up, skills, innovation and export support and has climate and carbon specialists who understand the business growth opportunities of net zero at every stage of a business. Through our Nuclear South West, Chamber of Commerce and Initiative memberships, we connect businesses throughout the region and offer business representation to give businesses a voice.

2) Businesses are encouraged to set a net zero target, which is to reduce their carbon emissions as far as possible across their operations, supply and value chains. The UK government has a legally binding target to be net zero by 2050 and to reduce carbon emissions by 78% by 2035. Locally, many councils have set ambitions to be carbon neutral ahead of the UK target aiming for 2030. Some businesses are choosing to align with earlier targets. To get you on your journey to net zero, sign up to the Race to Zero - a global campaign to pledge to reach net zero as soon as possible and ahead of 2050.

3) In Bristol, businesses and organisations are encouraged to aim towards net zero by 2030 in line with the One City Climate Strategy, it expects a plan to be published within 6 months and progress to be demonstrated within the first year.

4) Business Declares is a UK wide scheme that offers a way for businesses to declare a climate emergency, make a pledge to be net zero (across Scope 1 and 2) by 2030, develop a carbon reduction plan and access resources to help make progress.

5) The SME Climate Hub was founded by the International Climate Hub, Exponential Roadmap and We Mean Business Coalition. It is a free resource for SMEs with guides to set net zero targets, create climate strategies, guides to measure and reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to wider climate action.

6) The Zero Carbon Business site is shared by a range of partners including British Chamber of Commerce, CBI and FSB. It gives businesses the basics on net zero and offers sector-based net zero plans.

7) The British Chambers of Commerce has a Net Zero Hub that has a tool for small businesses to create a simple carbon footprint, share net zero stories and access events.

8) Most high street banks are offering support to small businesses on how to decarbonise. NatWest offer an accelerator programme to help climate focused businesses start and scale up, mentoring to meet environmental laws and obligations and digital courses to upskill any business on how to take climate action. Lloyds Bank offer an energy efficiency tool and clean growth financing options. While HSBC have created a guide for businesses and a net zero podcast.

9) Business in the Community are running a Challenge 2030 campaign, with fact sheets, jargon guides and resources to take climate action. They help their members make a positive impact on the wider community.

10) Bristol Green Capital Partnership deliver the Climate Action Programme, which includes workshops to help businesses understand the different steps that they need to take to reach net zero and guides.

11) The Climate Leaders Group is a peer-to-peer group for businesses in Bristol who have set net zero targets, it provides space for them to share their successes and work together on common challenges.

12) SevernNet supports businesses located in the Severnside and Portbury area to come together to collaborate on circular business opportunities, sustainable commuting initiatives and community engagement.

13) The West of England Combined Authority provides a free carbon survey for VAT paying SMEs and have grants available to put carbon saving measures in place the next application window is in December 2021.

14) SMEs in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire can access energy audits and access grant funding for energy efficiency measures through Target 2030. The scheme is delivered by Severn Wye Energy Agency.

15) Modern Methods of Construction offers a way to reduce waste and decarbonise construction. YKTO offer a tool to introduce innovators to local authorities.

16) Better Business is the membership offer from Bristol24/7, a Bristol based media company which enables businesses to collaborate on community and environmental projects.

17) #BristolDrivingChange is a business driven campaign aimed at helping businesses who would like to make the transition to an Electric Vehicle fleet, it provides guides on how to finance the switch, how to optimise charging through events, case studies and guides.

18) North Bristol Suscom help employers in North Bristol to decarbonise their commute. Commuting contributes to the scope 3 emissions of a business by providing support direct to its members, campaigning for more sustainable transport infrastructure and shares tools to help businesses with behaviour change with respect to sustainable commuting choices. In other part of the West of England, businesses can access sustainable transport support from Travel West this includes support for staff, electric bike trials, grants for sustainable and transport measures for businesses.

19) The University of the West of England offer a range of ways to help businesses make progress to net zero, including short courses on sustainable business and energy efficiency in buildings. They offer student internships, research opportunities with academics, innovation and incubation support too.

20) Bristol University have student projects available to help businesses access student support to create carbon reduction plans. Contact Alena Chetwynd for more information. 

21) Bath University runs the Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies and is able to work with innovative businesses on research and development to help them to scale up.

22) City Funds can help fund enterprises that have a positive impact on the environment through their Impact Investment Fund

23) Future Leap Network brings the environmental goods sector together to encourage collaboration and growth. It has a co-working space and hosts regular events.

24) Many businesses want to work on wider sustainability and become a B Corp, which demonstrates the highest environmental and social standards. Any business can use its assessment tool to see how it measures up to the B Corp standard and which areas can be improved. The Sustainable Development Goals Alliance is also a good network to help organisations to embedded in the UN Sustainble Development Goals.

25) Food is part of most businesses Scope 3 emissions. Bristol has become a Gold Sustainable Food City and has these resources to help businesses and organisations make the most sustainable choices with food.

26) Good ideas can come from any part of your business, taking action will require all parts of your organisation. Talk to your staff, your board, your customers and supply chain. Taking climate action is a team effort.

Business West is a B Corp and is carbon neutral through its partnership with Ecologi. We have set a Target to be Net Zero by 2030. We have created a Trading To Net Zero hub to share our own journey and provide resources and support for our members and the wider business community. Working with 25,000 businesses across the South West to actively work with decision makers and the public sector to help shape the region.

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