Small firms urged to join the race to net zero

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Date: 1 June 2021

A woman purchases produce in a zero packaging shop

The government is calling on the six million small businesses in the UK to lead the way on climate action as part of the drive to net zero.

The government has launched a new campaign - Together for our Planet - promising support for UK small firms to take practical steps in reducing emissions. In the run up to November's UN Climate Summit COP26 in Glasgow, the government is calling on small and micro-businesses to cut their emissions in half by 2030 and to reach net zero by 2050 through the new UK Business Climate Hub.

Small businesses can use the hub to find practical tools, resources and advice to understand their emissions and develop a plan to tackle them. Those who make a net zero commitment on the UK Business Climate Hub will be recognised by the United Nations Race to Zero campaign and will become climate leaders - inspiring others in the community to take positive environmental action.

The government is calling on all UK businesses to join the Race to Zero campaign, including the UK's six million small businesses which make up 99% of the UK's enterprises, employ 60% of the UK workforce and generate £2.2 trillion of revenue to the economy.

Practical steps that small firms could take include:

  • installing energy saving light bulbs
  • switching to electric vehicles and other cleaner forms of transport
  • introducing environment-friendly packaging options
  • offering a cycle to work scheme for employees

Prime minister Boris Johnson said: "Every step that a small business takes on their journey to net zero adds up - not only in protecting the health of the planet but also in future-proofing their business and encouraging new investment, new customers and new opportunities for growth."

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: "Small business owners care passionately about the environment, and are keen to do the right thing to help our transition to net zero … As we emerge from the worst of COVID and look to secure our long-term future, now is the time for small businesses to take their first steps. At FSB we will be building on this campaign to share ideas and small business-friendly guidance, that will reach small firms in local communities right across the UK."

In May, Small Business Britain also announced a new campaign to help small businesses take action on climate change. In line with government targets, the Small Business Planet campaign aims to encourage entrepreneurs and small businesses to commit to reducing their carbon emissions to net zero before 2050.

"There are some really easy steps that small businesses can take to start reducing their carbon footprint, and these can also help to lower costs and engage customers too," said Michelle Ovens, founder of Small Business Britain. "Our campaign is all about supporting and empowering small businesses to understand and address their environmental impact, as well as showcasing and celebrating inspirational stories and progress."

The Small Business Planet campaign is offering weekly events, including webinars, Facebook Live streams, power hours, drop-ins and live sessions on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Written by Rachel Miller.