Aiming for net zero

Net zero is not just a buzzword. It is a serious attempt to reduce carbon emissions and reverse climate changes. As businesses we can calculate our carbon emissions and reduce them so that we are doing what we can. 

What is net zero? According to the Oxford Dictionary definition it is “A target of completely negating the amount of greenhouse gases produced by human activity, to be achieved by reducing emissions and implementing methods of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

As a business you are likely to be aware of the UK Government’s plans for the UK meeting net zero by 2050. Alongside this is the goal to meet the Nationally Determined Contribution by 2030. As part of this, the UK is committing to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

The Net Zero Strategy will impact every business in the UK. We will need to comply with any new regulations that come into force e.g. the Plastic Packaging Tax.

How do I make my business net zero?

Individual businesses who want to be ethical and sustainable can set their own targets to reduce their carbon emissions. They can aim to reach net zero without waiting to be told to do so. But how does a business become net zero?

The first step is to calculate your existing carbon emissions. This will take into account the three scopes set out by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. The three scopes and their calculations can be complicated, which is why many larger businesses opt for a consultancy service. 

The Centre for Alternative Technology has resources for both local authorities and businesses to use. Their training is called Zero Carbon Britain.

The Energy Saving Trust can work with you on solutions to save energy in your business and help you to build a strategy and sustainability plan. 

Green Element provides a consultancy service for businesses and organisations. Their aim is to help them become an environmentally responsible business. 

They simplify the three scopes in a blog article as follows:

Scope 1 – all direct emissions

This includes all the emissions generated on-site in your building, e.g. using a boiler or a furnace, or driving a vehicle that is owned by the company as part of its fleet

Scope 2 – indirect emissions

These are the emissions generated by the services and utilities that you buy into your company, e.g. electricity suppliers

Scope 3 – all other emissions

These are the emissions created by the business activities but not owned by them, e.g. business travel, waste management, transportation by an external logistics company,  etc. 

The third scope will be the largest area of emissions and the most difficult to calculate for a business. Once an organisation knows what their current emissions are, they can start to take action. They may be able to reduce or offset them, bringing their business to net zero.

Net zero does not necessarily mean that all emissions will stop. Some of the emissions will need to be offset by contributing to projects, for example reforestation. Forests capture and hold carbon.

Let’s Do Net Zer0

Small businesses and sole traders can find the costs of consultancy services are too high for them to take advantage of. 

Blue Patch is providing a free program to members called ‘Let’s Do Net Zer0’ . The project is aimed at helping small businesses understand and use carbon calculators. They can then make changes to their business with the aim to achieve net zero.

The program is ongoing and free of charge for all members. We are working in conjunction with Green Element and using their Compare Your Footprint calculator to make this as easy as possible for our members to use and benefit from.

Apply to be a Blue Patch member and take part in Let’s Do Net Zer0.

Annette Clubley

Annette is a keen wildlife conservationist, mindful of sustainability and our impact on the environment. Outside of work, family is her focus and she loves teaching the next generation to enjoy the outdoors.