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Achieving net carbon zero by 2050 is a reality we are all facing. Although it’s an ambitious target, it’s something that businesses should be taking steps towards.

There are incentives that encourage businesses to be more sustainable. These include tax relief for investing in carbon-efficient technology and the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, which encourages businesses to switch to low carbon heating systems. However, I think, over the next few years, it is likely that businesses will be disadvantaged for not using sustainable alternatives. It is difficult to say when this will happen, but it’s something businesses should be ready for.

To help businesses get on the road towards zero carbon, we at Thomas Westcott suggest adopting a five-point plan.

1. Understand your carbon footprint and identify the risks associated with carbon usage in your business.

It is important to understand what you will have to change to achieve zero carbon. Businesses will need to look at the way they generate carbon and identify how they are using energy, both directly and indirectly. Some examples could include how you heat your offices, or the amount of packaging you use.

Businesses should also identify the risks and the cost of using carbon-intensive sources or methods. One of the ways to drive a reduction in the use of carbon is to increase the cost of using it. The Government, therefore, could potentially introduce carbon pricing, which will mean an extra cost if you use more carbon.

2. Evaluate your current carbon usage and take steps to reduce as much as possible, as soon as possible.

By finding ways to measure your carbon usage and taking simple, easy, relatively inexpensive steps, you can quickly take control of the amount of carbon your business uses. Have a smart meter fitted and record the amount of fuel your company uses to understand your current carbon use.

Once you know how much you are using, you can take steps to reduce it. Some low cost options include switching light bulbs for energy efficient ones and ensuring your workplace is well insulated, so it doesn’t use as much heating. 

More complex initiatives could include investing in solar panels to generate electricity to power air conditioning for your office during the summer. This, however, does have an initial financial implication which should be carefully considered when comparing to other energy sources.

3. Consider the impact on all stakeholders within your business and how to cooperate with them.

In terms of the environmental impact you have, everyone is a stakeholder in your business. There is currently a big movement towards shifting energy into the green sector. Those who don’t take advantage may experience increasing costs and risk damage to their company profile. Everything you do, in working towards carbon zero, will have an impact on your customers, your employees and your suppliers which, in turn, could impact your profits. 

4. Don’t be afraid to seize new opportunities.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has forced businesses to change the ways they do things and businesses can use these experiences as a model for adapting to the carbon reduction challenge. Don’t be afraid to look at new and different ways of doing things, such as using video conferencing facilities for meetings and courses or exploring the use of electric vehicles in your business. 

5. Build a robust and sustainable system for the future.

Imagine where you want your business to be in terms of achieving zero carbon, and then build a sustainable system that will help you get to that position. As we move forward, we are going to be using less carbon in everything we do, so it’s important to look at sustainable and more carbon-friendly methods and sources for the future.

For advice or support on this matter, please don’t hesitate to contact me or your local Thomas Westcott office.