SMEs urged to deliver net zero as UK launches climate hub

British businesses have backed a new scheme which is designed to support over 5 million small medium enterprises (SMEs) in their efforts to achieve net zero.

The UK Business Climate Hub was launched yesterday with a warning that to achieve the UK’s net zero goals all businesses have to achieve the aim.

The new site includes a range of support and tools, including a free carbon calculator, to help businesses measure, track and report on their emissions and save money by using less energy.

It has been backed by the newly formed Net Zero Council and comes as the organisation called on business representative organisations across the country to take concerted action to plan to reduce their members’ emissions.

The group, comprising CEOs from leading companies including Co-op, HSBC, Siemens and Cemex, have developed a new business roadmap framework to help empower businesses to work with others in their sector to create tailored action plans for their own industry to decarbonise.

Co-chair of the Net Zero Council, Co-op Group chief executive Shirine Khoury-Haq, said: “None of us will get to net zero without all of us getting to net zero, so ensuring that every business and every sector has a clear plan for delivering this non-negotiable target is key. I hope the UK Business Climate Hub will be a valuable tool for business leaders looking for guidance and support in this vital endeavour.

“The framework, which has been endorsed by the Net Zero Council and that is being published today, is designed to support organisations working to articulate a credible roadmap to net zero on a sector by sector basis.”

The site offers detailed advice on everything from sourcing products from green suppliers and reducing emissions from freight and logistics to the most cost-effective ways of installing solar panels and electric vehicle (EV) charging points.

The new support is aimed particularly at 5.5 million SMEs in the UK, with business and industry accounting for around 25% of emissions. Research shows that 90% of SMEs are keen to tackle climate change but find it difficult to know how or where to start to find the right solutions to reduce their carbon footprint.

Studies also show 85% of consumers are more likely to buy from a business with a reputation for sustainability, meaning going green can help grow the economy.

Businesses have been quick to support the scheme.

National chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, Martin McTague, said: “We are pleased to have contributed to the new UK Business Climate Hub that will provide businesses with trusted tools and information to help them navigate the net zero transition.

“SMEs recognise their role in net zero but many still find it challenging to access the relevant support and resources to play their part. This new official platform for advice and support will really help.

“In addition to helping small firms become more energy and resource efficient, the hub also has the opportunity to empower small firms to take ambitious steps towards net zero, ultimately ensuring that they also benefit from the economic opportunities created in a net zero economy.”

Sustainability strategist Laimonas Noreika, CEO of HeavyFinance added: “This hub will play a crucial role in enabling Britain’s businesses to take meaningful action against the climate change emergency.

“Far too many SMEs are keen to go green but lack the practical advice and financial support to make it happen. From office blocks, to farmyards, company owners across all industries are in urgent need of guidance to cut carbon emissions and build a cleaner, greener business. This new scheme is a step in the right direction and will help business owners across the country to develop long term sustainable strategies that will assist the UK in its journey towards net zero.”

The UK government added that the move to net zero creates the opportunity for a significant leap in new jobs across the country.

It highlighted in 2020 the UK was estimated to already have over 400,000 jobs in low carbon businesses and their supply chains across the country, with turnover at £41.6 billion. Over 80,000 green jobs are currently being supported or are in the pipeline since 2020, with that expected to increase to as many as nearly half a million by 2030.