Understanding Net Zero Emissions Targets

Online Direct’s Business Development Manager, Sam Hicks shares how SMB’s can begin to understand and work towards achieving Net Zero Emissions Targets.

By Matt Taylor, June 8, 2021

By Sam Hicks

August 26, 2021

Let’s begin by talking about UK Government policy.

Initially legislation was set in the UK to commit to net zero emissions by 2050. Now going ‘net zero’ doesn’t necessarily just mean cutting emissions down to nothing… Things like generation or offsetting are likely to contribute in parallel with reducing emissions. However the UK government then later revised this legislation, and has now set the worlds most ambitious climate change target: to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 in comparison to 1990 level.

This ambitious commitment from the UK government will require a lot of education and action, and it’s going to be really interesting to see how the Government support businesses with achieving these targets in the coming months and years.

At Online Direct, we work in partnership with a number of businesses across the UK including Welcomm to support all things energy – from pricing to technology and everything in between. We’ve been working with Welcomm for five years now, and the partnership continues to go from strength to strength. 

If your business is looking for advice to work towards net zero targets, use the links below to quickly navigate through the video.

How will emission targets be achieved?

We first need to become more efficient with our energy use. That starts with monitoring our consumption, and having better technology to help us do that – something Welcomm can support with. Being able to control and reduce our usage more effectively is made possible by replacing outdated electrical appliances with more up-to-date technology.

Another important area is behavioural and societal changes. I think we all need to educate ourselves better around the impact and the sustainability of everything that we do.

Something that’s been in the news more often recently is the electrification of transport and heating. We’ve seen news about the banning of petrol/diesel cars and the introduction of electric vehicles, which will play a huge role. Another item that’s not had as much mainstream media attention is hydrogen, and the role that hydrogen will play to replace natural gas, as well as the role it can play with transportation too. 

The final piece of the puzzle for businesses will be things like carbon capture and storage to offset emissions – all of these will be final crucial pieces to help businesses transition from ‘lower emissions’ to a business that is net zero.

How will targets affect small-medium businesses?

Surveys with small-medium businesses (SMB’s) show that most don’t know where to start when it comes to reducing their emissions. In fact, some survey results suggest that anything up to 40% of businesses are unsure of how to prepare for this shift. In truth, it’s unlikely to be a priority for SMB’s at the minute, particularly off the back of the global pandemic.

However, what I would say is with high energy prices driven by rising commodity markets, this really should be a driver for businesses to want to use less and be more efficient with their consumption – even if it’s not from an environmental perspective, but just from a cost saving perspective!

The most likely short-term effects will be operating supply chains in my opinion. Larger businesses and government tenders will likely all expect sustainability commitments from SMB’s in the near future and if they don’t comply, they might miss out on trade – so that’s probably going to be the greatest threat, particularly in the short term.

How can I help my business reach net-zero?

It’s a common saying, but if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. That is why, I’d say the most important thing is to have a really good understanding of your emissions as a business, which can be broken down into scope one, scope two and scope three emissions. No business can improve without understanding how and where it emits.

Secondly, I’d suggest looking at your largest emitting areas, to really focus on how you might be able to make the biggest impact – so for example, for one business it might be transport and another might be it’s energy… really focus on that largest emitter to understand what strategy offers the greatest commercial benefit.

The final point would be to ensure that you’re working with a trusted partner to help build and implement your future strategy. I’ll give you an example – with some energy products on the market, they might appear as if they are green and ‘low carbon’… but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s true. This is what’s commonly known as green washing.
We recommend working with trusted and knowledgeable partners like Welcomm to really help take that burden away from you and help navigate the market.

What can I do to reduce my emissions personally?

I think firstly, we can all make a difference by becoming more aware and educating ourselves about sustainability as a whole. It’s really important – as is understanding what personal impact we are having on both our local and national environment.

My second point would be, something we hear about quite a lot, and that’s us using and consuming less – flying less, driving less. If we reduce all of those things personally, that’s going to have a big impact overall.

The final point for me would be being more aware and conscious about what you’re buying, and where it’s coming from. This includes all consumer products – food, materials and clothing. If we all chose to consume sustainable options, together we would make a big impact.

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