Building a greener future

How your business can help stop climate change by creating a sustainable economy.

With public desire for a green recoveryLink opens in a new window supported by the Government, now seems an ideal time for businesses to seize the opportunity to help build a sustainable future as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 slump.

Of course, the Government has a crucial role to play in directing large-scale investment, providing effective grants, tax breaks and other incentives that will drive green innovation and shape market demand for more environmentally friendly products and services.

Indeed, the UK Government has firmly committed to Net Zero by 2050Link opens in a new window, and many businesses have pledged to doing so, too.

There is some debateLink opens in a new window as to whether the target is sufficiently ambitious given the fact we’re already in a climate emergency. Still, this target is focusing minds on the urgent need to act to prevent catastrophic changes to our planet due to climate change.

Despite the gravity of the current situation, a spokesperson from The Climate CoalitionLink opens in a new window acknowledges that some companies are only paying lip service to Net Zero by 2050 without making the transformative changes necessary to actually deliver on their stated commitment.

Fortunately, other businesses are already acting to help stop climate change and drive sustainable development. And your business could be one of them.

What is climate change? +

The Climate Change Committee explains it like this:

“Scientists have developed an understanding of the Earth’s climate system through years of observations, theory development and model building. We know with high confidence that climate change is happening today and is the result of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. Impacts from climate change are already being felt today and will continue to increase in the future. Action to limit future global greenhouse gas emissions will help restrict future changes in the climate system.”

 

What does ‘green recovery’ mean? +

A green recovery focuses on policies and solutions that will produce economic growth that benefits both people and the environment for many years to come.

Safeguarding the environment by protecting ecosystems and fighting the climate crisis is an essential part of that. But so is creating meaningful, decently paid jobs in non-polluting and innovative industries.

What is Net Zero by 2050? +

In 2019, the UK Government and the devolved administrations committed to the Net Zero target as recommended by the Climate Change CommitteeLink opens in a new window.

This entails reducing the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100% (relative to 1990 levels) by 2050, and will require extensive changes across the whole economy.

Why building a greener future matters +

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the UK economy hard and we need to rebuild it, to create jobs and grow financially. The question is will we favour polluting industries and businesses or those that improve the environment and our quality of life?

We’re already in a climate emergency, with climate change affecting the most vulnerable people on our planet right now. According to a recent report under the auspices of the UN, the world “will heat by more than 1.5°C unless countries produce tougher policies”.

After analysing the measures various countries have taken, the United Nations Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change commented:

“Climate science has made it clear that a deep transformation is needed to achieve the climate goals, and that such transformation must start early and result in deep emission reductions even before 2030.”

Read the press releaseLink opens in a new window

Climate change is an “existential threat” to humanity according to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Indeed, there is evidence that we’re very close to a tipping point that could drastically affect people in the UKLink opens in a new window.

The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at Cambridge University has explained why such tipping points are importantLink opens in a new window.

 

Case studies +

There are examples from various sectors of companies that are making genuine efforts to reduce climate change and to build a greener future for our planet.

Transport

Founded in 2019, Edinburgh-based EmberLink opens in a new window is planning to disrupt the status quo of coach travel and create a fully electric and tech-enabled future for public transport.

Triodos Bank helped fund the company, through support via the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). Read a case study of the business and its financingLink opens in a new window

Farming

Vertical farming – growing plants under controlled conditions in stacked layers, indoors and without sunlight – is increasing apace in the UK. According to an article in Farmers WeeklyLink opens in a new window, this innovation appears to offer good yields that have less impact on the environment.

Clothing

Making and cleaning clothing and fabrics involves water- and energy-intensive processes that use large volumes of chemicals and generates significant emissions and waste.

As consumers and industry try to reduce these impacts, they are seeking innovative solutions that protect the environment. By integrating Xeros TechnologiesLink opens in a new window in washing machines and apparel production equipment, “it is possible to reduce water consumption, lower carbon and effluent emissions and vastly reduce micro plastic pollution”.

What you can do +

The most important action you can take right now is to educate yourself. For example, what greenhouse gas emissions do you produce and how can you reduce them? You can then try to decide what changes best suit your business.

There are lots of government resources available to help you do this, including this carbon calculatorLink opens in a new window. GOV.UK also provides information on climate change and energyLink opens in a new window, with details on grants available to help you make changes.

In addition, the Government provides guidance on environmental taxes, reliefs and schemesLink opens in a new window for business.

It won’t be easy but the UK can set a worthy example to the world, if we work together.

Additional information +

The economic impact of global warming – report Link opens in a new window

A research report from macroeconomic forecaster Oxford Economics.

Net Zero by 2050 Link opens in a new window

A detailed overview of the Net Zero target in the UK from the Institute of Government.

Government guidance on environmental taxes, reliefs and schemes for business Link opens in a new window

Environmental taxes encourage your business to operate in a more environmentally friendly way. There are taxes and schemes for different types and size of business.

What could a good green recovery plan actually look like? Link opens in a new window

Article in The Guardian about what world governments need to do to shift economies away from fossil fuels.

Regional support

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