UK Business Climate Hub to support 5.5 million SMEs toward net-zero
A new UK Business Climate Hub, backed by the Net-Zero Council, has been launched, with an aim to support 5.5 million SMEs in reducing energy costs and emissions as a part of their net-zero transition.
The hub includes a free carbon calculator and a set of tools to assist businesses in measuring, tracking, and reporting emissions.
It also provides advice on practices such as sourcing from green suppliers, reducing freight emissions, and optimising solar panels and electric vehicle (EV) charging, focusing on cost savings and emission reduction, buying credible carbon offsets, getting low-carbon product labels and certifications, and getting business grants, green loans and financing for a retrofit.
Net-Zero Council co-chair Shirine Khoury-Haq said: “None of us will get to net-zero without all of us getting to net-zero, so ensuring that every business and every sector has a clear plan for delivering this non-negotiable target is key.
“The framework, which has been endorsed by the Net-Zero Council and that is being published today, is designed to support organisations working to articulate a credible roadmap to net-zero on a sector-by-sector basis.”
Comprising CEOs from firms including Co-op, HSBC, Siemens, and Cemex, this collective has devised a business roadmap framework, which aims to enable companies to collaborate within their sectors, crafting customised action blueprints for industry-specific decarbonisation.
By 2020, the UK had an estimated 400,000 jobs within low-carbon businesses and their supply chains, generating a turnover of £41.6bn.
Since 2020, new government policies have facilitated more than 80,000 green jobs, and this number is projected to rise to nearly half a million by 2030.
Research from Sage and the International Chamber of Commerce highlighted that 90% of SMEs are eager to address climate change, but struggle to identify where and how to begin in seeking effective solutions for carbon footprint reduction.
Minister of State for Energy Security and Net-Zero Graham Stuart said: “More and more businesses are recognising the business benefits of reaching net-zero and we’re determined to empower them to do so.
“The new UK Business Climate Hub is a one-stop-shop for businesses to find practical advice to reduce their carbon footprint and save on their energy bills.”
This development coincides with the release of a report by the British Chambers of Commerce and Lloyds Bank. The report draws from a survey of more than 1,000 UK businesses, with SMEs comprising 96% of the respondents.
The survey revealed limited SME awareness of the 2050 net-zero target’s impact, with only 8% comprehending it fully and 30% grasping some details. Almost half (49%) had awareness but no specifics, and 14% were oblivious.
Most SMEs were “non-starters” in their net-zero journeys (61%), hindered by resource constraints. Around 31% were in the early stages, while 9% were progressing or achieving net-zero targets.
The survey highlighted a link between net-zero transition and SME productivity, with 9% foreseeing increased productivity due to green technologies, 21% anticipating a decrease, and 55% predicting no change.
The survey report emphasises the Government’s role in educating SMEs about the net-zero journey, offering guidance, support, and incentives where feasible.
It proposes revisiting communication mechanisms for net-zero plans, ensuring the requirements of the transition are set out in realistic and achievable terms, with a clear articulation of the role of SMEs in delivering wider change.
The report also recommends businesses foster knowledge exchange among peers to promote further action.
Earlier this year, a survey from BSI found that only one-third of decision-makers at UK-based SMEs say they are extremely confident about how to reach net-zero emissions.
Earlier this year, the SME Climate Hub posted similar findings from its own study of 350 businesses. That study found that seven in ten firms need more available funds to transition to net-zero, with most citing increased difficulty securing funds in the current economic climate.
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