Climate change is causing widespread global disruption in the form of higher temperatures and more extreme weather events. A recent report by IPCC has found that the world faces unavoidable, multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C. Even temporarily surpassing this, according to the report, is likely to result in additional severe impacts, some of which may be irreversible.
As a result of this, in the UK, people are beginning to worry about the effects and are starting to make lifestyle changes. As the ONS found, in October 2021, three quarters (75%) of adults in Great Britain said they were worried about the impact of climate change and were three times more likely to have made a lot of changes to their lifestyle as a result.
Businesses accounted for 18% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 and therefore have huge responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint.
Businesses can reduce their carbon emissions by breaking down their emissions into three categories; Scope 1 (direct emissions from your own business activities), Scope 2 (emissions from the energy you purchase), Scope 3 (indirect emissions associated with your supply chain, value chain and end user). You can read more about this here.
So, what are some steps your business can take today to reduce your emissions?
1. Recycle and reuse
Encouraging employees think about sustainable procurement is an important way to engage them in reducing consumption of items such as plastic, food and drink packaging and electrical appliances.
A good place to start is by using second hand or refurbished mobile phones or laptops and second-hand office furniture. You’ll not only save money, but you’ll reduce waste too.
Reducing your food waste is also important. Research has shown that the production, transportation, and handling of food waste generates significant greenhouse gas emissions and when it ends up in landfill, it generates methane which over a 20-year period, is 80 times more potent at warming than carbon dioxide.
You could consider setting up a composting program or purchasing from other businesses that support local farmers to minimise transportation.
2. Invest in renewables
One of the quickest and simplest ways for your business to reduce its carbon footprint is to switch to a green or renewable energy tariff. Most energy suppliers offer green energy tariffs or contracts which means the energy you use is matched with the amount the supplier buys from renewable energy sources. The greater number of businesses which sign up, the more renewable energy is fed back to the grid.
This renewable energy could be sourced from solar farms, hydroelectric power, and biomass plants.
E.ON, npower, Scottish Power, SSE, British Gas and EDF Energy all offer green business contacts – but you will need to check whether you qualify as some only offer contracts for larger businesses.
3. Engage with and evaluate your supply chain
Suppliers for your business or those you supply to are part of your ‘scope 3 emissions.’ As such, its important that you work with like-minded businesses who share your goals for reducing your carbon footprint.
If you are struggling to evaluate your supply chain, companies like Auditel can uncover opportunities for your business by analysing your current supply chain and reviewing contracts with your suppliers.
4. Consider your travel
A study by the International Energy Agency (IEA), found that for people who commute to work via car more than 3.7 miles one-way, remote working will lead to a reduction of emissions, despite the increased energy usage at home. With more workplaces offering hybrid or remote working, if your company has not already adopted this working style, it is worth considering to help reduce your emissions.
In the UK, transport accounted for 27% of the UK’s total emissions in 2019. Of this, the majority came from road transport vehicles. Electric cars emit around a third of the CO2 of petrol vehicles so by installing EV charge points or by making the switch from corporate to electric fleets, companies can help accelerate their mission to reduce their carbon footprints.
Cycling is one of the most sustainable and healthy ways to commute to work. Businesses can encourage employees to cycle by providing tax-deductible bike purchasing schemes and installing charge points for e-bikes. Taking into account bicycle production, riding a bike emits more than ten times less co2 than a car.
5. Be aware of your digital footprint
Every action we take online impacts the environment in some way. In a survey by OVO Energy, around 75% of people surveyed said they were unaware of the digital footprint of their inbox.
Researchers estimate that a typical email has a carbon footprint of around 4g of CO2 emissions and one with a larger attachment might be ten times more than that.
Being mindful of how you use digital systems is therefore important.
You can make a start by encouraging your employees to consider whether sending certain emails is necessary. Encouraging the use of file transfer sites rather than sending attachments can also help to reduce your company’s footprint.
6. Educate your company
One of the best ways businesses can become greener is to educate themselves about sustainable practices. We are running Aiming for Net Zero workshops on the 8th June and the 6th July designed for SMEs of all sizes who would like to learn more about how they can reduce their impact on the environment. We are also running a series of lunch and learns focusing on different topics with the aim of helping business on their Net Zero journey. We will have expert speakers sharing their experiences and top tips. Our next Lunch and Learn event will take place on July 19th where the topic will be focused on Green Supply Chains. Stay abreast of upcoming events here.
Trading to Net Zero
How business acts now will shape our planet and communities for centuries to come. Business West is commited to safeguarding the environment and addressing the climate crisis.