So what is Business West doing? In December 2020, we were the first Chamber of Commerce in the UK to announce our commitment to safeguarding the environment and addressing the climate crisis.
The company is now carbon neutral and aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030. To meet this ambitious goal, we issued our climate change position statement, outlining three clear steps towards reducing carbon emissions and accelerating the decarbonisation of business activity across the region.
How is Business West reducing our carbon emissions?
We have already begun a 10 year+ programme to reduce carbon emissions.
Some of the steps we have taken to date to achieve this include:
- purchasing electricity from renewable sources
- installing voltage optimisation and LED lighting to reduce electricity demand
- implementing heating controls between floors to reduce heating demand
- providing electric bike hire, electric car charging, and a hydrogen pool car
- offering staff 20p per mile for cycle expenses to reduce emissions from business travel
- created a sustainable procurement guide to reduce carbon emissions in supply chain
In due course, we will be publishing a detailed plan on how we aim to reach our net zero target by 2030.
What is our approach to carbon offsetting?
We recognise that it’s not possible to simply offset the climate crisis; climate change is a global issue so efforts need to be directed to absolute carbon reduction. However, we’ve started to offset our emissions in the interim.
We’ve partnered with Ecologi who offset our business and staff emissions using Gold Standard Verified Emissions Reduction (GS VER) offsets and additional tree planting which also support the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
It’s important for businesses to consider who they work with to offset their carbon emissions carefully and ensure that offsets are good quality, traceable and verified. The projects supported by the offset also support the UN SDGs.
How will Business West work with its members and the wider business community to reduce emissions?
Business West has a track record of working with our members and the local business community to reduce carbon emissions, having previously delivered the ERDF funded Improving Your Resource Efficiency (IYRE) programme which saved companies an average of 10t CO2.
We have our Innovation team and Export Advisers with a wealth of expertise in design, low carbon markets, tech and energy to support business to become low carbon and to grow. We are also part of the Bristol Green Capital Climate Leaders programme.
Plus, we have launched our Trading to Net Zero Climate Hub in January 2021, to share best practice and help to inspire businesses to take the journey to net zero too.
We encourage all businesses to consider how they can play an active role in their communities to help enable and accelerate change as widely as possible.
How does Business West seek to influence climate policy?
Below are just some of the examples of how Business West is seeking to influence climate policy, working closely with a range of partners from the public, private and third sectors:
COP26 provides a unique platform for businesses across the UK to influence climate policy.
To coincide with the event, taking place between 1-12 November 2021, Business West is making the case to decision makers in central government for further investment in the South West support and accelerate our industry to transition towards net zero.
Nuclear South West
Also, through projects such as Nuclear South West, we’re making the case to government to invest in fusion technology in the region given our region’s expertise.
British Chambers of Commerce
Through our association with the British Chambers of Commerce we’re calling for a Just Transition which sets out principles to act as a fairness test for policy makers, planning and designing the regulatory policy frameworks and prioritising investment.
What are we doing locally?
Locally we are actively engaging with the local and combined authorities, ensuring that COVID-19 recovery plans encompass the climate challenge and opportunities.
The Bristol and West of England and Swindon Initiatives, as part of Business West, have set up a Climate Advisory Group to inform how we might best address climate change mitigation and adaptation in the city region, and the Chamber of Commerce Planning and Transport group has expanded its remit to include climate change.
We are also a founding partner of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership CIC, a leading sustainability network working across business, institutions and communities to drive the low carbon agenda.
We will continue to support campaigns to push ahead on city and regional wide decarbonisation. Currently we’re backing Cycling Works Bristol which seeks to create continuous and segregated cycle paths across the city region to encourage a step change away from commuting by car.
How will we monitor progress toward achieving our net zero target?
Business West has signed up to the International Chambers of Commerce Chamber Climate Coalition. We have also implemented the ISO 14001 Environmental System and are working toward B Corp accreditation to help monitor and challenge our progress. The ISO 14001 Environmental System is a universal standard open to all businesses, whereas B Corp status requires businesses to pass a rigorous accreditation process to prove that they prioritise people and planet.
We are also taking part in the Bristol Green Capital Climate Leaders Programme which will see us sharing our net zero journey.