Retail, tech and manufacturing: UK Net-Zero Business Champion urges firms to bolster climate targets

The UK Government has faced mounting pressure to provide more long-term clarity for businesses on approaching the net-zero transition

Dated for Tuesday (17 August) and published on the UK Government’s website today (19 August), the letters implore businesses to visit the UK Business Climate Hub – a Government-run online platform through which firms can state their support for the UK’s long-term climate target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. The Hub also encourages businesses to set an interim goal of halving emissions by 2030, in line with the recommendations in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) landmark 2018 report on limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5C.

Once businesses state their support, they are contacted directly with practical tools on measuring and reducing emissions. Some information is available on the Hub in open-source format; there are sector-specific guides for agri-businesses, manufacturers, retailers and tech companies, as well as general advice which could apply for multiple sectors. The sector-specific guidance is new, hence Griffith’s letters.

Statements of support lodged through the UK Business Climate Hub are sent to the UN’s Race to Zero campaign – a global initiative, designed to mobilise support for net-zero ahead of COP26 – for verification. The campaign does not verify all net-zero claims; their timelines have to be assessed, as does the extent of the scope of emissions covered, to ensure targets are credible. Moreover, large fossil fuel firms are not eligible for target verification.

Griffith’s letters also point to the UK Government’s SME Climate Hub and to some of the many sector-specific net-zero collaborations orchestrated by industry bodies. For retailers, the British Retail Consortium’s Climate Action Roadmap is flagged. This initiative is convening more than 60 big-name retailers in developing and delivering a pathway to net-zero by 2040. In the technology space, the Tech Zero Taskforce, spearheaded by industry body Tech Nation and energy company Bulb, is highlighted. For manufacturers, Griffith has signposted MakeUK’s ‘Demystifying Net-Zero’ paper.

In all three letters, Griffith states that “making greener choices now can mean savings on business running costs, and also show customers the sector continues to be serious about sustainability” amid the economic recovery from Covid-19.

The UK’s net-zero target for 2050 is legally binding, meaning that all companies will need to prove their alignment in the long term. But, at present, there is no mandatory requirement for businesses to set net-zero targets or develop delivery strategies.

edie’s recent Net-Zero Business Barometer, which polled 161 n-house sustainability, energy and carbon professionals at UK organisations of all sizes and sectors, found that 45% of respondents’ employers are yet to set a net-zero goal. The Barometer survey will be repeated on a bi-annual basis, with support from Inspired Energy, to enable edie to track trends.

At present, a key barrier for business appears to be the absence of the Net-Zero Strategy – the policy package, due ahead of COP26, that will outline decarbonisation pathways for all high-emitting sectors.

For the latest on how the UK Government, other nations, and the private sector, are preparing for COP26, read the latest edition of edie’s COP26 Action Tracker.

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Sarah George

Comments (1)

  1. Kim Warren says:

    Great !!! I am told the huge Avara Foods business halved energy use in less than 5 years with a load of simple, no-brainer actions likely to be found in any business. I also hear companies won’t take huge opportunities because either some will not pay back 100% in a single year or "it’s not in the budget". Please stop such nonsense and get on with it. We don’t have 30 years to fix this. Don’t know how? Get ISO-50001 or similar.

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