Net Zero Guide for UK Businesses in 2024

June 24, 2024
Min Read

The UK's legally binding net zero target by 2050 requires businesses of all sizes to build trust in the climate transition by adopting smarter and more sustainable energy usage. This comprehensive guide includes essential information and resources for your business, helping you understand and incorporate responsible change in your Net Zero strategy.

What is Net Zero?

Put simply, Net zero means achieving a balance between the greenhouse gas emissions a business produces and the amount it removes from the atmosphere. This can be accomplished through a combination of emission reduction strategies and carbon offsetting projects.

How Can Net Zero be Achieved?

Net Zero is an ambitious target that requires a complete transformation of the UK economy and the energy market. The energy sector plays a crucial role as it's the source of most greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. By replacing polluting fossil fuels with renewable sources like wind and solar power, we can significantly cut carbon emissions and prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

A significant portion of global greenhouse gas emissions originates from a select group of countries. The top five emitters – China, the United States, India, the European Union, and Russia – were responsible for roughly 60% of total emissions in 2021.

*Group of 20 (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union). Source: UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2023

Why Net Zero?

There are several reasons for UK businesses to embrace net zero:

Compliance: The UK government's net zero target is legally binding, and businesses will face increasing regulations in the coming years. By taking proactive steps now, your business can stay ahead of the curve.

Cost Savings: Reducing energy consumption and waste translates to lower operational costs. Additionally, businesses with strong sustainability credentials get access to funding for easier and more affordable access to sustainable practices.

Brand Reputation: Consumers are increasingly seeking out businesses committed to environmental responsibility. Demonstrating your commitment to net zero contributes to your environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy.

Your Net Zero Roadmap

Our step-by-step approach to guide your business towards net zero:

1. Measure Your Carbon Footprint Based on Types of Emissions:

A significant part of your business’s environmental footprint comes from emissions. These emissions fall into three categories, depending on their source: Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3.

Scope 1 and 2: Operational Emissions

Scope 1 and Scope 2 make up 10-20% of a typical business's footprint. These are your operational emissions, generated through your energy use.

Scope 1 (Direct Emissions): These come from activities your business directly controls, like burning fossil fuels on-site. Examples include natural gas in boilers, gasoline in company vehicles, or diesel in generators.

Scope 2 (Indirect Emissions): These result from someone else burning fossil fuels to create energy that you use. The most common example is electricity purchased from the grid. However, for some businesses, district heating, cooling, or steam might also contribute to Scope 2.

Monitoring Scope 1 and 2 emissions is relatively straightforward. You simply need data on your annual usage of electricity, gas, gasoline, diesel, and any other fuels.

Scope 3: Emissions Outside Your Operations

Scope 3 covers a broader range of emissions indirectly associated with your business activities. These include:

Your supply chain: Emissions generated during the production and transportation of goods and services you purchase.

Waste: Emissions from the disposal or treatment of waste your business generates.

Staff commuting and business travel: Emissions from employees travelling to work or for business purposes.

Scope 3 emissions can be complex to track, especially for smaller businesses.

Source: Invest South Tyneside Toolkit.

2. Set Achievable Goals: Establish clear and measurable goals aligned with the UK's 2050 net zero target. Break down your goals into short-term and long-term milestones to track progress.

3. Reduce Emissions Across Your Operations: Adopt strategies that minimise your carbon footprint. This could involve switching to renewable energy sources and improving energy efficiency across buildings and operations.

4. Offset Remaining Emissions: Once your business’s operational emissions are minimised and unnecessary waste is eliminated, you can choose to ‘offset’ the remainder of your carbon emissions. However, offsetting is currently not an affordable option for many businesses, and it’s important to reduce your business’s existing emissions as much as possible before choosing to offset them.

Journey to Net Zero

We’re on our own journey to net zero, committed to reducing our environmental impact, using renewable energy, and encouraging the development of good environmental practices as an organisation. We combine our sustainability expertise with the technology needed to deliver net zero in a way that is responsible and achievable.

Our Energy Monitoring System (EMS) tracks your individual machines and meters to show how much energy your business uses at its lowest and highest demand. That allows you to easily track your usage, expenditure, and carbon footprint so you can replace equipment that doesn’t meet performance standards and avoid any surprise costs.

Report on Your Progress

Transparent and meaningful reporting can help you drive confidence in your business. Our EMS gives you access to an easy-to-use carbon tracking feature in your personalised dashboard so you can monitor your emissions across all your sites and view your progress with same-day data. Request a free demo today to find out how it works.

Know Your Impact

To ensure your Net Zero strategy is evidence-based and insights-led, we’ll help you identify, measure, and assess your carbon impact impacts across all stages of your value chain. We'll help you set and achieve those targets with expert consultancy and ongoing account management.

Turn Data into Insights

Many organisations struggle with poor data visibility. Emissions data, for example, is particularly complex and time-consuming to collect and verify, sometimes requiring weeks for a report. We use our Energy Monitoring System analytics to help you collect same-day data and report quickly and efficiently.

Resources for UK Businesses

The UK government and various organisations offer valuable resources to support businesses on their net zero journey:

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) provides guidance and support for businesses on achieving net zero.

The SME Climate Hub offers practical tools and resources specifically tailored to small and medium-sized enterprises.

The Carbon Trust provides a range of services to help businesses measure, manage, and reduce their carbon footprint.

A Time for Action

The pace of change to Net Zero is accelerating, but it must move quicker still. That’s why over the last year we continued to strengthen our focus on Net Zero, launching additional training for all our staff, including a Non-Commodity Costs workshop delivered by Cornwall Insight to give those with foundational knowledge further skills to build Net Zero into the heart of our client services.

Ensuring our people are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need means we can meet the demands of our clients and bring wider benefits in line with the nationwide Net zero targets.

Get in touch with our energy experts today to see how we can help your business achieve Net Zero.