Andrew Griffith MP, Net Zero Business Champion, discusses COP26 business priorities

This year the UK has a unique opportunity to come together to tackle climate change.

In November, the UK is hosting the UN climate change conference (COP26) to ask world leaders to work together to deliver urgent global climate action.

As part of this, we want businesses from across the UK to join the green business revolution and make a climate commitment to become part of the United Nations Race to Zero initiative.

As the UK Net Zero Business Champion, I want as many businesses as possible to join us in the Race to Zero – a global effort to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we all generate to zero by 2050.

To help, we have created a brand new UK-facing landing page on the SME Climate Hub. The hub is for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and provides a one-stop-shop to make a climate commitment and simple tools and resources. Our campaign is specifically targeted at small and micro businesses and presents a great opportunity for them to sign up and be part of this global ambition.

By making the climate commitment, businesses will pledge to become greener and more sustainable, gaining recognition in the international community and with their customers at home and abroad.

With small to medium sized enterprises making up over 99% of the UK business community, and business and industry accounting for a quarter of UK emissions, it is clear that the actions of every single business will be central to this country’s successful transition to a low carbon economy.

Businesses such as energy efficiency specialists SURE Solutions from Birkenhead, which has made a commitment to be net zero by 2025. The company has installed 70 solar panels on the roof of its offices and plans to install a hot water heat pump and electric vehicle (EV) charge points this year.

I want every business, from entrepreneurial family firms to the very largest household names, at home and abroad, to make their own pledge to eliminate their contribution to climate change by 2050 or sooner. If we can all move together at the same time, the costs of making the change are radically lower and we can all move much further and faster.

On behalf of the Government, I will be working closely with small businesses from across the UK to help them join the green business revolution and commit to becoming greener and more sustainable. Every parliamentarian will be able to get involved with this work and to lead the charge on high streets and in business parks in their own constituency.

Smaller enterprises can make a real difference by taking simple steps: looking at the energy they use, how their buildings run and where they get their products from. Being greener also opens up new avenues of growth for small businesses to attract the increasing number of consumers who care about the climate.

Businesses signing up will be in good company. A significant number of UK companies have already joined the UN’s Race to Zero campaign, a global initiative setting science-based targets to get to net zero by 2050. Almost one third of the UK’s largest businesses, including AstraZeneca, Sainsburys and Vodafone have signed up, and the rate at which companies are joining has accelerated over recent months.

I am only too aware of the challenges faced by the business community due to the pandemic. But there are also reasons to be optimistic.

While we know the world will be different as a result of the pandemic, this is the ideal opportunity to change the way we work, to build back greener and to be more sustainable.

I want to recognise and thank all the businesses around the globe which are making considerable efforts to become more sustainable. But we need more to come aboard.

The eyes of the world will be upon us this year. We have made huge and historic commitments on climate change, but it is vital that each and every UK business can play their part if we are to succeed.

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