Global warming over the next ten years is inescapable, and with it comes an enhanced risk of economic and physical dangers. The only solution to prevent the most damaging effects of climate change after 2030 is to forcefully decarbonise our daily lives and economy.
In this article, we’ll look at the climate change challenge, what the UK’s targets are, and its impact on businesses. We’ll also discuss how businesses can adapt and what the Chamber is doing to provide initiatives to help, developed in partnership with those who share our vision and values.
As part of its sixth carbon budget, the Government declared on April 20, 2021, that it will ‘set the world’s most ambitious change target’ to decrease emissions by 78% in contrast to 1990 levels. Britain’s carbon budgets put a limit on the overall amount of greenhouse gases the UK can produce across a period of five years.
The target set in this carbon budget will include Britain’s share of shipping and international aviation emissions, which were eliminated from the UK’s preceding carbon budgets.
The 2019 Climate Change Act commits the UK to net zero by 2050, increasing the UK’s duty to a 100% cutback in emissions by 2050 compared to the 2008 Act that committed the UK to an 80% reduction.
The Government announced it was one of the world’s key economies in permitting laws to decrease all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, stating: “Any emissions would be balanced by schemes to offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or using technology like carbon capture and storage.”
What does it mean for businesses?
According to the Climate Change Committee, the UK is currently on target to meet its objective of a 37% cutback in emissions in comparison to 1990 by 2022. However, it’s not on target to meet the objectives highlighted in the fourth and fifth carbon budgets – a 51% decrease in contrast to 1990 levels by 2025 and a 57% decrease versus 1990 levels by 2030. The committee has declared the Government must ‘introduce more challenging measures’ so the UK can meet forthcoming carbon budgets and the net zero target for 2050.
So, what can SMEs do to ensure they are meeting targets? There seems to be a lot of legislation and businesses are being given targets, but without any real means or support to achieve these. We are seeing changes in markets, technologies and regulations that challenge the practicality of existing services or products, increase company costs or affect asset values. What we are not currently seeing are tangible and practical solutions to the problem for SMEs, who want to lower their carbon footprint and participate in the sustainability drive but without any real guidance or means to do this.
The frustration is that companies understand the opportunities available to them – from enhancing resource productivity by improving energy efficiency, lowering expenses, promoting innovation and launching new products and services which allow for carbon reduction. Sustainable businesses do better, it’s a fact. Not to mention the positive brand and reputational benefits, as well as the interest shown by investors. The benefits are apparent to all but accessing them will require hands-on support.
Initiatives and support
There is a range of different initiatives that work alongside businesses to support them in playing their role. The British Chamber of Commerce has launched its online sustainability hub, featuring Climate Change Central, Net Zero Hub and COP26, offering easy-to-digest information on the issues and clear action plans to navigate your way to the 2030 and 2050 targets.
Here at Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce, on a regional level, we’ve partnered with Low Carbon Workspaces to help companies identify and fund projects to cut down their waste,
energy, water and fuel costs to improve resource efficiency in commercial premises. Companies could receive a grant of up to
£5,000 to replace old, incompetent equipment. We want to work with local businesses to not simply talk through the issues and targets but to actually help make things happen!
Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce is a strategic partner, here to help offer advice and support in achieving sustainability targets for its members. We represent over 700 local businesses, from sole traders through to international organisations, in a variety of sectors.
Find out more at www.chamber-business.com or call 01582 522448