In the year when the UK government revealed its net-zero strategy and played host to the global climate summit, COP26, it’s hardly surprising that decarbonisation and the challenges it presents is at the forefront of business minds across the nation.
Decarbonisation and impact to business
Across the board we’re using the term decarbonisation to describe the process of achieving a net-zero society by 2050. But more specifically it’s the way in which the output of carbon dioxide (CO₂) and other harmful greenhouse gases will be significantly reduced, or eliminated entirely, from a country’s economy. The primary method to achieving this is accepted to be a widespread switch from fossil fuels to low-carbon technology and energy sources across the world’s economies.
But for businesses, decarbonisation could also mean investment in energy-efficient equipment, on-site renewable energy generation, or making small, effective changes across the supply chain to achieve targets.
Increased accountability for decarbonisation
Although there is a sense of urgency around all things climate change, it’s important to consider the bigger picture when making investment decisions about how to decarbonise your business operations. However, one thing is certain: proactivity is key. There are already mandatory energy and carbon reporting schemes for UK businesses and as we head towards 2050 they are expected to become more stringent, and businesses more accountable for them.
To help shape your business decarbonisation plan, here are five key areas to consider.
1. See the opportunity in change
Recognising opportunities for change and the positive impact they can have on your business needn’t be huge or expensive ideas to begin with. The opportunity for cost and carbon reduction can start with ways to reduce packaging, introducing recycling opportunities, or encouraging carpooling.
2. Get an accurate carbon footprint
It’s only possible to make effective change once the size of the change is realised. This is the same for decarbonising business. What’s required is a comprehensive understanding of the size of your company’s carbon footprint across the three scopes of: direct emissions, emissions related to electricity and gas, and indirect emissions that occur in the value chain. Once this information has been collected, then the job of identifying areas for cost and carbon savings can be made. Some of the initiatives could be as easy as switching to LED lighting or increasing the efficiency of equipment to reduce your energy consumption.
3. Invest in technology
When you understand your company’s carbon footprint you can then begin to make plans to invest in the technology needed to support its decarbonisation journey. With the technology available to us now there is opportunity to make long-term, sustainable improvements. You could consider becoming an energy generator to support your own operations by investing in biomass or wind generation or using solar PV technology. To cut energy consumption in offices, there are a number of smart building solutions, including smart sensors that will switch lights off in unoccupied rooms or monitor the temperature of a building and alter it according to occupation rates.
4. Create a sustainable supply chain
There’s merit in shopping locally and that includes creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly supply chain. Transportation is one of the biggest contributors to global warming and has significant impact on the environment. A key consideration for reducing your company’s carbon footprint is to change the method of travel and the distance travelled in the transportation of goods and supplies. Supporting local supply chains is a significant and effective step to achieving net-zero.
5. Collaborate and partner
There’s strength in numbers when it comes to achieving targets. Once there is a realistic and robust decarbonisation strategy in place then working with trusted partners can accelerate its success and positively impact your business and the environment.
A business' proactive approach to decarbonisation
One such business that has taken a proactive approach to decarbonising its national operations is Cepac, a leading independent corrugated packaging manufacturer. Through its partnership with Shell Energy, the company now aims to continue to reduce its environmental impact and reliance on non-renewable utility supply.
Sustainability is considered a key business priority for Cepac and widespread initiatives are already being embraced. Find out more about how Cepac and Shell Energy work together here.
At Shell Energy, we provide solutions for managing your energy costs and planning your decarbonisation roadmap. We offer 100% renewable electricity and gas*, alongside tailored cleaner energy options to businesses across Great Britain, find out more here.
* Our renewable energy is backed by UK-certified renewable guarantees of origin, which means that any renewable energy you buy from us is matched with the equivalent amount of units from 100% renewable sources.
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