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Calling all small businesses to lead the charge to net zero

Business Support News

The Together for our Planet campaign encourages small businesses to pledge to cut their emissions to net zero by 2050 or sooner, while helping them grow, adapt and seize new opportunities.

  • Prime Minister and Business and Energy Secretary will urge the millions of small businesses across the UK to lead the way on climate action as part of the UK’s drive to net zero
  • launch of the Together for our Planet Business Climate Leaders campaign supports small businesses to take their next steps in reducing emissions
  • campaign encourages small businesses to pledge to cut their emissions to net zero by 2050 or sooner while helping them grow, adapt and seize new opportunities

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will today (Friday 28 May) call on every small business in the UK to take small, practical steps to cut their emissions as part of the UK’s journey to net zero by 2050, in the run up to UN Climate Summit COP26 in Glasgow this November.

Together they will launch the Together for our Planet ‘Business Climate Leaders’ campaign, a new drive to encourage small and micro businesses to commit to cutting their emissions in half by 2030 and to net zero by 2050 or sooner through the new UK Business Climate Hub.

Small businesses can use the hub to find practical tools, resources and advice to understand their emissions and develop a plan to tackle them, as well as providing ideas for steps they can take.

Steps could include installing energy saving light bulbs, switching to electric vehicles and other cleaner forms of transport to reduce their carbon footprint, looking at environment-friendly packaging options, or introducing cycle to work schemes for employees.

The campaign will also provide small businesses with access to some of the UK’s biggest businesses – including NatWest, Google, Scottish Power and BT – and leading climate experts to support them in taking the simple and practical steps to protect the planet, and the benefits of future-proofing and growing a low carbon business. Partner support will include hosting a range of collaborative events throughout summer, creating a small business training programme on taking green actions, and using their high-profile digital channels to drive small business audiences to the climate hub.

Taking action on climate change will help businesses grow, seize new opportunities, create new jobs, encourage investment and adapt against the challenges of a changing planet, while reducing emissions can lower businesses’ running costs, save them money and attract new customers – ultimately helping them maintain a competitive advantage locally and globally.

Those who make a net zero commitment on the UK Business Climate Hub will be recognised by the United Nations Race to Zero campaign and will become ‘climate leaders’ – role-modelling and inspiring others in the community to find meaningful ways to take positive environmental action as we approach the global climate summit COP26 hosted in Glasgow this year.

As the UK’s 6 million small businesses make up 99% of the UK’s enterprises, employ 60% of the UK workforce and generate £2.2 trillion of revenue to the economy, it is crucial these enterprises take action and reduce their carbon footprint.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

Every step that a small business takes on their journey to net zero adds up – not only in protecting the health of the planet but also in future-proofing their business and encouraging new investment, new customers and new opportunities for growth.

We are providing the support and advice small businesses need to join us and become leaders in the fight against climate change.

To mark the launch of the campaign, the Prime Minister and the Business and Energy Secretary will meet small and micro companies from across the UK and its economy who have already made a net zero commitment.

Business & Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and as we transition to a green future, they will also the backbone of the UK tackling climate change.

There are huge opportunities for a small business to go green – not only playing their part in saving the planet from climate change but helping grow their business and ensuring it is fit for the future.

Simple changes could differentiate a business from the competition, attract new customers and investment and save them money on their running costs. That is why I am urging the nation’s small businesses to sign up to become business climate leaders and lead the charge in protecting the future of our planet.

COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma, said:

We are at a critical point for our planet, and to safeguard its future we must act now to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C. To do this, we need action from all of society including those small businesses that play such a vital role in our daily lives. The world is moving to a greener, brighter future, so please: do not get left behind. Ahead of COP26 in November, join the hundreds that have already done so and become a business climate leader.

The UK’s Net Zero Business Champion Andrew Griffith said:

The UK business community has a unique opportunity to come together to tackle climate change. We all need to play our part, and as small businesses make up the majority of the UK’s business community it is critical that they get involved.

There is a need for practical guidance on the simple steps businesses can take reduce their carbon footprint and the Together for our Planet climate leaders campaign will help provide just that.

The launch of the government’s new campaign follows the UK’s world-leading success in ensuring the largest companies join the green revolution. The government is working with Net Zero Business Champion Andrew Griffith to encourage businesses of all sizes to make a formal net zero commitment. As of today, over 40 of the UK’s FTSE 100 companies signed up to the United Nation’s Race to Zero campaign, cementing the UK’s position as the leader of the international business community in going green and tackling climate change.

With less than 6 months to go before the UK brings world leaders together for the crucial UN climate change summit COP26 in Glasgow this November, the UK government will continue to call for action for companies to join the Race to Zero and establish plans to meet their commitments.

Chief Executive Officer of NatWest Group Alison Rose said:

As the leading bank in the UK for businesses, we want to encourage, enable and lead the way in helping small businesses transition to a net zero carbon economy. From our recent SME Recovery Report, we know SMEs have the opportunity to help the UK meet its net zero targets by reducing their carbon footprint by 80 MtCO2e by 2030 through more sustainable business operating models.

As COP26 Principal Banking Partner, we’re proud to support the Together for our Planet Business Climate Leaders campaign and partner with the government on this important initiative, especially in the run up to November’s UN Climate Summit. We will be encouraging as many of our customers to sign up as possible.

Philip Jansen, Chief Executive of BT Group, said:

BT has been taking action against climate change for nearly 30 years and we’ve pledged to be a net zero emissions business by 2045. All businesses, large and small, have an important role to play in reducing worldwide carbon emissions, so we’re urging our small business suppliers and customers to join us on the journey to net zero by signing up to the UK Business Climate Hub.

A survey we recently carried out with Small Business Britain found that although 99% of small firms recognise the importance of sustainability, three quarters of them (77%) don’t know how to measure their carbon emissions and need support. The new UK Business Climate Hub, together with free webinars we’re offering through BT’s Skills for Tomorrow programme, will help more small firms take their first steps towards taking climate action that can make a difference.

Ronan Harris, Managing Director & VP, Google UK and Ireland said:

Every email you send through gmail, every question you ask Google Search and every YouTube video you watch is already carbon neutral. But we know our impact is far greater when we are also helping others transition to a carbon-free world. That’s why we’re excited to be part of this important campaign and, as part of that, to offer small businesses across the UK new training that can help them increase their competitive advantage while protecting the planet.

National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses Mike Cherry said:

Small business owners care passionately about the environment, and are keen to do the right thing to help our transition to Net Zero. The small firms and sole traders who make up the UK’s 6 million SMEs are now seeking help and guidance on what they can do. From those that have already started on this journey, we know that sustainability makes good business sense, too.

Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce Shevaun Haviland said:

Tackling the climate crisis demands entrepreneurial spirit and innovation, qualities which we know sit at the heart of our business communities in all parts of the UK. We must harness these abilities to uncover solutions which will not only protect our planet, but drive business growth and create jobs.

The transition to net zero must empower companies to seize the opportunities which come from reducing their environmental impact. This initiative is an important step in enabling SMEs and micro-businesses, which are the backbone of the UK economy, to stake their place in the green economy.

Small businesses that are already making the leap to go green include:

Clean distilling: being green is at the heart of Shed 1 Gin, a gin distillery in Ulverston, Cumbria, since its inception in 2016 and now the business has committed to being net zero by 2030. The business uses recycled, recyclable and compostable packaging and recycles water used during the gin distilling process, saving thousands of litres of water.

Practice what you preach: family-owned energy efficiency specialists SURE Solutions, Birkenhead on the Wirral, offers solutions to businesses using industrial refrigeration and has pledged to become net zero by 2025. The company has installed 70 solar panels on the roof of its offices and this year plans to install a hot water heat pump and electric vehicle charge points. This is on top of making sure it is recycling waste and replacing its vehicles with either electric or hybrid equivalents. The business also has plans to be carbon neutral through carbon offsetting by the end of the year through tree planting or similar.

Founder of Small Business Britain Michelle Ovens CBE said:

The UK’s small business community can and will play a significant role in combatting climate change. Although individually small, collectively they have a huge impact on the economy, society and local communities. Working together, we can start the journey towards net zero, and Small Business Britain is committed to helping the nation’s businesses get there.

Today marks a clear occasion and opportunity for small businesses to take the lead. As we emerge from the worst of COVID and look to secure our long-term future, now is the time for small businesses to take their first steps. At FSB we will be building on this campaign to share ideas and small-business-friendly guidance, that will reach small firms in local communities right across the UK.”

Today’s Business Climate Leaders campaign launch is the latest phase of the government’s UK-wide Together For Our Planet campaign that is encouraging people from across society to engage in climate action.

The campaign also builds on the progress made at the Business 7 Leaders Climate Summit that the UK convened as part of its G7 Presidency earlier this month, organised ahead of leader-level discussions at G7 Summit in June. This event brought together business leaders across the world to accelerate climate action and seize opportunities of net zero.

Visit the Business Climate Hub for more information here.

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