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Net Zero Now – a sectoral approach to reaching our national target

1 February, 2021

Good Business is involved with the launch of Net Zero Now – a new initiative designed to help the 99% of businesses in the UK that are SMEs move to create credible and robust net zero targets and plans, through a sector-based approach.

If you want to get involved, get in touch now at marie@good.business or use the chatbot. Alternatively, keep reading for the full account of what we’re doing and why, and how you can help.

The UK has passed an emissions law which requires us to bring all greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050. And even as a global pandemic has ravaged the world, the consensus around the urgency and importance of tackling climate change has accelerated. With the UK hosting the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November, the pressure for change will mount further. 

At the moment, smaller firms are almost completely under the radar from a carbon perspective. While it’s great to see eye-catching examples of big businesses setting net zero targets, these companies have the resources to invest in specialist expertise, equipment and resources to reach their climate goal, from mapping their carbon footprint and developing science-based targets to navigating the complex offset market. Businesses without these resources will be left behind if we don’t take action now. 

Although many are willing to change for the good of our planet, it’s simply not realistic to expect small- and medium-sized businesses to reach net zero on their ownThis is strikingly brought to life by the findings of a recent research study from the BSI, which found that 80% of respondents want more guidance on how to go net zero. 

This creates a significant challenge to the UK’s ability to meet its carbon goals. We need to make it easy for SMEs to understand where they are and create a credible and robust path to a net zero future, so that they can be part of the change we all need. 

Net Zero Now

So how can we make this happen? 

We believe the answer lies in a sector-based approach that gives SMEs guidance specific to their industry that helps them move to a low-carbon future. While every business is unique, the SMEs in any sector have a lot in common. Restaurants follow a similar set of steps to understand their emissions, set targets, create reduction action plans and find the right carbon compensation schemeBeauty salons will have similar options for how to involve customers in the process. Holidays, hospitals, local builders, theatres and gyms will each have their own set of shared considerations.  

Developing a net zero protocol that provides a framework for all businesses in a specific sector will take the onus off each individual firm, ensuring net zero seems achievable even to one-person operations. SMEs will save time and money, and will also benefit from being recognised by an industry standard that publicly validates their net zero activities.  

Where should we begin?

We’ve started Net Zero Now with a pilot in the restaurant sector. We’ve collaborated with Cranfield University and Food Made Good to develop a protocol that includes all the necessary detail and guidance for restaurants to create their own net zero strategy. It includes a voluntary charge to the bill to offset the carbon impact of diners’ orders as well as a registry that enables businesses to earn public kudos for their net zero ambitions.

This pilot is currently underway in Hertfordshire. It has been sponsored by a financial services company and is being delivered by Food Made Good. Similar projects for Net Zero Beer, Net Zero Family and Net Zero Farm are also in the works.

We need your help!

We’re calling on others to join us to help us roll these protocols out to as many sectors in the UK as possible!

We need:

  • Trade associations to step forward and proactively spearhead the development of protocols for their sector
  • Businesses from any sector who might be open to partnering with us on the development and rollout of programmes
  • Small businesses who are looking to achieve net zero – but don’t know where to start

To reach net zero, we must start taking action immediately. And it must include the UK’s entire business ecosystem, not just the large businesses. These Net Zero protocols can work for any sector and we’re looking for businesses of all shapes and sizes to get involved. If you would like to learn more or you think you can help, get in touch today.

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