Sustainability, greener workplaces, carbon footprint, COP26, climate change… If you are the owner of a business that still has a significant carbon footprint, you are probably feeling a little overwhelmed right now. There is a lot of work and change ahead of us if we want to slow and stop the effects of climate change, and sticking your head in the sand really isn’t an option anymore.
The government has released the following statement:
Here are explore why and how UK businesses can take action on climate change and kickstart their green transformation.
The Motivation to Go Green
The COP26 summit produced what is being called the Glasgow Climate Pact, an agreement between 197 nations of the world to reduce the impact of climate change. The aim is to keep the planet’s temperature rise below 1.5C – this is what scientists say is required to prevent a “climate catastrophe”.
Key points that have been agreed in the pact include:
- There is an explicit plan to reduce use of coal, which is responsible for 40% of annual CO2 emissions, but some countries would only agree to “phase down” rather than “phase out” coal after a late intervention by China and India.
- The world’s biggest CO2 emitters, the US and China, pledged to cooperate more over the next decade in areas including methane emissions and the switch to clean energy.
- Leaders from more than 100 countries – with about 85% of the world’s forests – promised to stop deforestation by 2030.
- A scheme to cut 30% of methane emissions by 2030 was agreed by more than 100 countries.
- The countries will meet again in 2022 to pledge further cuts to emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) – a greenhouse gas which causes climate change.
However, despite what may appear to be steps in the right direction, the Glasgow Climate Pact is not a legally binding agreement, and there are many who believe the targets set out do not go far enough. Even if every country was to achieve what they have pledged to, scientists estimate that we will only limit global warming to about 2.4C.
So, where does that leave us? Essentially, with plenty more work to do if we want to, quite literally, save the world and businesses want to show their customers that they are doing their bit.
Are UK Businesses ready to move ‘One Step Greener’?
Carbon footprint has become the standard when measuring the environmental impact that any activity has on the environment. It represents to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by performing an activity. From the emissions produced by your fleet to a member of staff drinking from a non-recyclable plastic bottle of water on your premises, every act leaves a carbon footprint.
We have created a free scorecard for businesses called ‘Is your business futureproof?’ which asks 12 quick questions about your workplace, technology and any environmental measures you’ve taken. According to the results we have collated in the last two months, with the exception of LED lighting installations, UK businesses have a way to go in their green transformations.
Overall Environmental Scores
- 51% scored low
- 43% scored medium
- 4% scored high
How does your business compare? Click here to find if your business is futureproof.
If your score is lower than you would like, here are some ideas that could get you on the right track…
8 Ways to Go One Step Greener
Reducing your business’s carbon footprint means reducing the carbon emissions going into the atmosphere, and significant change has to start with the business leaders while being embraced by the entire team. While it is not something that will happen overnight, every journey has to start with that first ‘step greener’. Small changes can make a surprising difference over time. Here are some ideas on how to reduce your business’ carbon footprint.
1. Calculate your current carbon footprint
Before you start reducing, you need to understand what your carbon footprint is now and, crucially, which areas of your business are responsible. There are online calculators that will give you a rough estimation, but renewable energy companies will be able to provide a more accurate result and recommend the best ways to reduce.
2. Reduce, reuse, recycle
One of the simplest changes you can make is to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as possible. From office supplies and packaging to the amount of electricity or water you use, the more you can reduce your consumption the less you will send to landfill and the smaller your carbon footprint will be. You could consider banning single-use plastics from your premises like plastic cutlery, bottles or disposable cups and plastic straws.
3. Install LED lighting
Switching to LED lighting in your business could reduce your carbon footprint and save you a significant amount of money on your energy costs. LEDs (light emitting diodes) use less energy, last longer, and produce a better quality of light than traditional lighting. In fact, LED lighting could reduce your annual energy consumption by at least 50%.
4. Install solar panels
Solar panels convert natural energy from sunlight into free electricity for your business. Unlike electricity generated through traditional methods, solar electricity is carbon free. This not only reduces electricity costs in the present but will also protect businesses from future rises in energy prices.
5. Switch to an electric fleet
If your business has a fleet of petrol or diesel vehicles, switching to an electric fleet could slash your emissions overnight. Electric vehicles produce zero tailpipe emissions and are usually significantly cheaper to run than their fossil fuel counterparts.
6. Promote greener commutes
If all your staff are travelling from home to work in separate vehicles, their carbon emissions will count towards your footprint. Consider ways in which you could encourage your staff to adopt a greener commute. This might mean offering discounts on public transport, a cycle to work scheme, letting them work from home where possible, or even providing them with a band new electric vehicle via a salary sacrifice scheme.
7. Support environmental community projects
Find out if you there are any community groups in the local area that are working to help the environment. Even the smallest activities can make a difference and set an example for others to follow, whether litter picking or restoring an area of wildlife. You could organise a team to help a community group during work hours, give staff additional holiday to volunteer elsewhere or even offer rewards for environmental work.
8. Educate your team
You can put lots of policies in place and give people the tools they need to change, but if they are not motivated to support your efforts, change is likely to be slow and ineffective. Any changes that you introduce should be done alongside education and cooperation from your team. It might take some time, but positive reinforcement and regular reminders will help to make green working the norm.
Funding Your Green Transformation
Another pledge made in the Glasgow Climate Pact is that financial organisations controlling $130tn have agreed to back “clean” technology, such as renewable energy, and direct finance away from fossil fuel-burning industries.
It looks likely, therefore, that in the coming months and years that many funders will show a preference for funding green projects, making it possible for UK businesses of every size to reduce their carbon footprint.
At Bluestone Leasing, we are also committed to helping UK businesses to cut their carbon footprint by buying or leasing renewable technology or upgrading to more energy efficient premises. If you would like to spread the cost of solar panels, electric vehicles and charge points, LED lighting, renewable heating, or any other asset that will reduce your carbon footprint, get in touch today.