The government has launched the new online UK Business Climate Hub, to help business play a part in the fight against climate change and gain a competitive edge in the process

Even the smallest businesses produce carbon emissions – it could be through your building, your vehicles or your supply chain.

Which is why the government has launched the new online UK Business Climate Hub, to help  business play a part in the fight against climate change and gain a competitive edge in the process.

As part of the government’s ten-point plan to Build Back Greener following the pandemic, UK businesses are being asked to make a climate commitment to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030, and to reach net zero by 2050. Net zero means you are putting no more carbon into the atmosphere than you are taking out of it.

Once you make the commitment to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner, you’ll be provided with tools to help you understand your emissions, how to reduce them, and how to share what you’re doing with your customers and your community.

There’s even branded material to help you showcase what you’ve done, as well as regular support and incentives to help you stick to your commitment.

So what is the UK Business Climate Hub?

It is a one-stop-shop where you can make a climate commitment, become part of the United Nations Race to Zero initiative, and access best-in-class tools and resources for your company.

Part of the UN’s SME Climate Hub, the new UK hub brings a much-needed national focus to an important international campaign.

Recognising the need to support businesses as they start their net zero journeys, the UK Business Climate Hub is designed to offer practical advice that is accessible to all, kickstarting your push towards net zero.

The resources will help you to develop a climate strategy, measure and reduce your business’s emissions, and help with making choices which also help to reduce the emissions of your supply chain.

You’ll also find inspiring stories from other businesses like yours, that have already benefited from introducing sustainable measures.

Here’s how it can work for you:

Grow your business and your brand

The hub represents a national network of like-minded businesses seeking to improve themselves, their community and the planet. Being part of this network offers far reaching collaborative and commercial opportunities to grow your business and become a leading brand, as market trends shift to a low-carbon economy.

Help your business gain a competitive edge over others in your field

Supply chain leaders, investors, shareholders, consumers and employees are increasingly looking to business to adopt ambitious climate-related targets, with some supply chain leaders now making climate action an official part of their procurement policies. Making a commitment to net zero, and sharing this pledge with your customers and stakeholders can increase your competitive edge.

Get better access to capital and affordable insurance

Investors and insurers are increasingly linking business exposure from natural disasters, such as flooding, with climate change. Take steps to keep your insurance fees affordable and secure your loan, grant and investment worthiness.

Improve your business’s efficiency and reduce costs

Reducing emissions means businesses that look to use and manage resources more efficiently can also reduce their operating costs and improve preparedness for a greener, more prosperous future.

To get started on the road to a greener future today, visit the UK Business Climate Hub and make a commitment.

Find out more by visiting smeclimatehub.org/uk.

Why SMEs?

Here we look at why the SME Climate Hub is focussed on SMEs

  • SMEs make up 90% of businesses worldwide and employ over two billion people – the backbone of our communities and our economy.
  • SMEs are essential for the provision of goods and services around the world as well as for the innovation and scaling of next generation green solutions required for global decarbonisation.
  • One of the most pressing existential threats to SMEs is climate change – and with 40% to 60% of small businesses never reopening after a disaster, building business resilience has never been so important.

Building climate resilience is critical for SMEs to remain viable but they often lack resources, know-how and incentives to become resilient.

1 Limited Resources

Small businesses often have many competing interests and limited time, money and staff to dedicate to addressing climate resilience.

2 Lack of Know-how

Even if a small business is committed to building resilience, it is often difficult to know where to start or where to find practical and credible tools – in one place – to support them.

3 Misaligned Incentives

Small businesses want to survive and thrive, but the commercial value of building resilience is not always evident.

Steps you can take to cut your emissions

Going greener might look different for every business, but there are steps you can take whether you’re just starting out or further along the road to zero emissions. Here are some ideas to get you started…

Introduce a cycle to work scheme

Reducing your impact on the environment could be as simple as allowing your employees to make changes to how they work and travel.

Support your employees to cycle to work through a salary sacrifice scheme. This is better for your employees’ health and well-being and better for the planet. The Cycle to Work Scheme is a tax-efficient, salary-sacrifice employee benefit. You can also save on reduced National Insurance Contributions on the cost of cycle hire.

Insulate your buildings

Non-domestic buildings are responsible for 9% of UK greenhouse gas emissions every year.

Properly insulating your windows, walls, doors, roof, chimneys and pipes will reduce your energy use, cutting emissions and saving you money on bills.

(source: Final UK greenhouse gas emissions national statistics: 1990 to 2018)

Minimise the waste from your products and packaging

Waste isn’t only bad for your bottom line, it’s bad for the environment. Most production processes contribute to carbon emissions, and if products cannot be reused or recycled, then incinerating or landfilling discarded plastics and other rubbish releases more carbon and potentially other harmful chemicals into the atmosphere.

WRAP have resources and tips that can help you tackle this waste, including:

  • Reducing the amount of packaging you use
  • Using recyclable materials
  • Minimising the use of unnecessary single-use plastics
  • Reducing the environmental impact of textiles and clothing by designing for durability, with greater use of more sustainable fibres and recycled materials
  • Smarter storage for perishable goods to avoid food waste
  • Clear labelling on appropriate disposal methods, so your customer can do their bit too

Adjust heating and cooling system timings, temperatures and rooms

You could significantly lower your energy consumption and emissions by turning your heating down by just one degree.

Other changes you can make right now include:

  • Setting your thermostat correctly
  • Making sure systems are turned off when the building is unoccupied
  • Turning air conditioning off if you have a window or door open
  • Keeping radiators free from obstructions

Switch to LED bulbs

Upgrading from conventional lighting to LED bulbs could deliver cost savings of up to 80% for your business.

LED bulbs use less energy, last much longer and reduce maintenance costs compared to regular bulbs, meaning you’ll make back the cost and more. You can save more money by installing lighting controls that automatically switch off or dim lighting.

The Energy Technology List is an easy-to-use source of information on energy efficient products for buildings and provides a list of verified efficient products, including lighting.

Install a smart meter

Smart meters enable you to take control of your business’ energy use and costs – and put an end to estimated billing and manual meter reads.

Speak to your energy supplier directly to find out about having a smart meter installed at no additional cost and check Smart Energy GB for more information.

Talk to your supply chain

We will only make progress towards net zero emissions if everyone gets involved.

Ask the businesses in your supply chain how they are reducing their emissions. This could prompt them to take action and may give you new ideas. Try having a conversation about reducing environmental impact with each of your suppliers at least once in the next three months.

How about factoring in environmental impact next time you are looking for a new supplier?

Install your own renewable electricity or heating

Switch from a gas boiler to a low carbon alternative, like a heat pump or solar thermal, and you will immediately reduce your impact on the environment.

Or generate your own renewable energy, for example by installing solar panels, and you could even make money by selling excess electricity you produce back to the grid.

These projects have higher upfront costs and you may need planning permission before starting work, so will work best if you are planning on remaining in your current premises for the next few years allowing you to recoup the costs.

For information on all these actions visit the UK Business Climate Hub at smeclimatehub.org/uk/  

Electrify your vehicle fleet

Electric vehicles can save you money and offer a superior driving experience, as well as reducing your environmental impact.

Go Ultra Low have a selection of tools that can help you work out:

  • What government incentives are available for your business
  • Potential savings on fuel, tax and road charges
  • Which vehicle is right for your business, how far it can travel and the location of your nearest charging points

What’s in it for my business?

Here we look at some of the benefits for SMEs

Gain a competitive advantage

Supply chain leaders, investors, shareholders, consumers and employees are increasingly looking to business to adopt ambitious climate-related targets, with some supply chain leaders now formulising climate action in their procurement policies. Stay ahead of the curve.

Manage business risk

Left unchecked, climate change represents material risk to business cash flow and economic growth, by increasing operating costs, limiting resource availability, causing shifts in demand, disrupting supply chains and forcing business closures. Prepare for tomorrow, today.

Improve effeciency, reduce costs

Businesses that look to use and manage resources more efficiently can tangibly reduce their operating costs and increase profitability, while improving business preparedness. Begin to take steps today that are good for your business and the climate.

Enhance access to capital and affordable insurance

Investors and insurers are increasingly linking business exposure from natural disasters with climate change. Take steps to keep your insurance fees affordable and secure your loan, grant and investment worthiness.

Grow your business and your brand

The SME Climate Hub represents a global network of like-minded businesses seeking to improve themselves, their community and the planet. Being part of this network offers far reaching collaborative and commercial opportunities to grow your business and be a leading brand, as market trends shift to a low-carbon economy.

CASE STUDY

Sara Roberts: Creating healthy snacks and a healthier planet

Sara Roberts explains how Healthy Nibbles is committed to building a sustainable business and how they are working towards Net-Zero goals

Health food boss Sara Roberts set up Healthy Nibbles in 2015. The Edinburgh-based firm, which describes its products as ‘health food with a conscience’ creates snack boxes with healthy treats including Creative Nature and I Love Snacks. The business is on track to turnover £1.5m in 2021.

Not just content with transforming the health food industry, Sara is now turning her business green and encouraging others like hers to help save the planet.

Sara’s call comes as the UK gears up to host the hugely important United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP26 – in Glasgow this November.

“COP26 is a significant event where countries can present their plan to reduce carbon emissions. It has an opportunity to impact the general public at a local level, demonstrating the importance of Net Zero and actions individuals can take. However, as with an event of this nature, its impact and importance are only quantifiable through the action and results.”

Sara certainly backs words with deeds and explains how Healthy Nibbles is committed to building a sustainable business and how they are working towards Net-Zero goals.

“At Healthy Nibbles we are committed to continuous improvement with sustainability being a key part of what we do. Last year we changed our packaging to be plastic free and it is now produced using 100% recycled materials, which are in turn recyclable. We only use water-based inks and biodegradable labelling and tape.

“We became more mindful of business travel. Due to the pandemic, online solutions have become more acceptable, making this an easier and quicker win, but it is something that will be continuing when restrictions lift.

“Within our supply chain we work with many small producers and assess suppliers’ impact and what they are doing in terms of the environment and sustainability.”

While Healthy Nibbles are already making changes to reduce their carbon footprint, Sara wants to inspire others to also join the Race to Zero.

“We are proud of our achievements as a small business. However, we are equally aware that it is only through collaboration, improvements at scale and encouraging others to join the Net Zero journey that true difference will be made.”

Sara has advice for other businesses looking to make small changes with big impacts:

  • For new businesses, put sustainability and impact at the forefront of the planning process.
  • Identify quick wins and then review and scale up.
  • Don’t underestimate guidance, education and support to help you along the way – there are a lot of free, immediately available resources.
  • Find out what other businesses are doing and learn from them along the way.

Find out more about Healthy Nibbles – https://www.healthynibbles.co.uk/

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