Every business owner should be aware of Net Zero, what it means and also have a plan to get there. Net Zero is an international effort to become carbon neutral by 2050. By achieving Net Zero status, a business shows that it emits ‘zero’ carbon (also called Co2e), aligning itself to global goals around sustainability and slowing climate change before it’s too late.
While Net Zero is an international effort led by the world’s governments, in order for us to achieve our targets, every business must make a concentrated effort to achieve (and demonstrate) that they have reached net zero. That’s where The Net Zero Standard comes into play.
Released by The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) in October 2021, The Net Zero Standard is the first global science-based standard to provide a robust approach for all corporates to set realistic and achievable Net Zero targets in line with climate science with a simplified pathway for SMEs defined as companies with 500 employees or less .
Previously, you’d be excused for thinking Net Zero was a buzzword – a target that lacked substance or even a clear strategy to achieve. In fact, many corporate businesses have been called out for introducing seemingly ‘green’ initiatives that are actually a marketing stunt and make very little real environmental impact – this is known as greenwashing.
However, now we have a clear and detailed pathway that businesses can follow to achieve Net Zero.
What is Net Zero?
As we’ve already touched upon in the introduction, Net Zero is the concept of achieving a balance between the greenhouse gases produced and taken out of the atmosphere. You will often see 2050 associated with Net Zero, but this is not a target – it’s a last resort. In order to minimise our environmental impact and achieve Net Zero, we have to start today.
Until recently, there was no singular pathway to Net Zero for SMEs. However, the release of the SBTi’s Net Zero Standard release allows us to create a realistic strategy to support businesses to achieve Net Zero.
Why is Net Zero important for your business?
Of course, Net Zero is critical for the future of our planet. However, many businesses are still recovering from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and the economic difficulties that came with it. As a result, business owners are focusing on short term survival rather than long term strategies like Net Zero.
However, in order to achieve Net Zero within the timeframe, it is necessary to make it a priority. There are many reasons why Net Zero is important for your business, not least the environmental benefits.
Brand credibility and new opportunities
Firstly, being a Net Zero business can boost your brand’s credibility and even open doors to potential funding and investment opportunities. The Sustainable Innovation Fund is one of the government’s leading initiatives nurturing the growth of businesses making an impact in the field. The SIF’s second phase launched in late 2021, having already funded over a thousand projects in a wide range of fields, including manufacturing, artificial intelligence and data economy
Even if your business does not qualify for the SIF, you will find information being required about environmental and sustainability efforts in many funding applications and commercial contract bids these days, making it a priority for any business looking to prosper in the near future.
While the regulation of Net Zero practices is still very much in flux in the UK, by making it a priority now, you will be ahead of the curve for future compliance requirements. Improve adaptability for future regulations by ensuring the strategy is ingrained in your company’s core processes early on.
Remember, Net Zero is a long term strategy and targets cannot be met without a comprehensive plan in place that reflects this. The sooner you get on board with The Net Zero Standard, the better your chances are of achieving your goals.
The recent increases in the cost of energy have changed the game.
By saving energy, you will save money, too. Fossil fuels are not a sustainable or affordable way to power your business. By investing in more sustainable energy sources like wind and solar, you will take significant steps towards achieving your goals. Even within the day-to-day operations of your business, there are small changes you can make that will all add up to major benefits. From automated lighting to flexible working, an effective Net Zero strategy should cover all aspects of your business operations – big and small.
What is greenwashing?
In light of the international efforts to become more sustainable, you may have seen the term ‘green washing’ in the media. Greenwashing is a term to describe companies that promote sustainable efforts when they are actually misleading consumers into thinking they are making an environmentally conscious choice. Even if you haven’t heard the term greenwashing, then you will definitely be familiar with some of the most common examples, such as McDonald’s switch to paper straws (which cannot be recycled) or H&M’s recycling scheme.
When it comes to making your business more sustainable, you might be worried about getting it right. You don’t want to invest in a Net Zero strategy only to realise it does not deliver tangible results or be accused of greenwashing.
Thankfully, greenwashing is easily avoided. The Net Zero Standard provides you with the steps you need to take to create a detailed and targeted plan. This will require detailed research and investigations into your business practices, so you can identify areas of improvement and work towards clear and concise goals.
Greenwashing is a marketing strategy that big businesses use to appear more sustainable than they actually are – with the right Net Zero protocols in place, you will easily avoid this and make a real difference.
The Net-Zero Standard
The Net Zero Standard is the first global science-based standard to provide a robust approach specifically designed to help SMEs set realistic and achievable Net Zero targets according to climate science.
At Integral Energy, we are here to help all businesses, particularly SME’s who may lack an in-house team, to implement and oversee the Net Zero Standard. So, we can help you to put into practice the most effective strategy to become more sustainable, reduce your carbon emissions and meet your Net Zero goals.
Ready to go Net Zero? Book a call with us, and our consultant will talk you through the process and help you implement the Net Zero Standard for your business.