Striving for net zero: what businesses need to know

As we all know, there’s a shrinking window of opportunity to change our emissions and reduce global warming. The UK government has responded by setting an ambitious target to be net zero by 2050 to prevent a climate emergency.

Every time we turn the heating on in the office or fill up the car on the way to work, we’re emitting greenhouse gases and contributing to increasing global temperatures. This leads to a multitude of problems both in the UK and beyond. To really make a difference, every sector of our economy has a part to play to help us avoid losing control of our climate for good.

What is net zero?

People often get confused between net zero and carbon neutrality, assuming they are similar. There are however significant differences between the two. Achieving net zero is the biggest and most effective challenge as it involves reducing emissions from all types of greenhouse gases (not just carbon dioxide). Put simply, net zero means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, so that any remaining emissions are re-absorbed from the atmosphere by oceans and forests.

If you’re like us, and have committed to a net zero target, you might be wondering what steps to take to get your emissions down. There are three areas to focus on:

Scope 1 emissions
These are caused by day-to-day activities such as driving, having the heating on, or taking a hot shower. They’re direct emissions that are the easiest to reduce once you start making changes.

Scope 2 emissions
These are indirect emissions and are a result of a business or organisation’s energy use. They include the purchase of electricity, steam, heat or cooling.

Scope 3 emissions
These are the hardest to change as they’re not your direct responsibility. They also happen to be the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Examples of scope 3 emissions include purchased goods and services, disposal and even your employees’ commute to work or business travel.

Seeking out ways to measure, influence and report on scope 1-3 emissions and implementing behaviours within your business to change them is the best way for any business to achieve net zero.

What does net zero mean for businesses?

Striving to be net zero doesn’t just make the planet a better place for future generations, it’s also great for your business’ bottom line. Without that change, the climate emergency will get worse, temperatures will increase, wildlife will be affected and even on our doorstep, there’ll be water shortages. Water in the UK is becoming more and more scarce by the day and our resources won’t last forever. If we continue to use it the way we do currently, Wholesalers may have to limit new connections to the water supply, which will have a knock-on effect on business growth. As a business it’s important to think about the link between water, energy and your carbon footprint. Reducing your water use and investing in more efficient practices will result in lower costs and a cleaner atmosphere.

We can help

You may not think water and carbon are linked, but water treatment and supply are responsible for around 1% of our country’s total carbon emissions. This rises to c.6% if your business is heating, cooling or pumping water. So if your day-to-day operations include any of these activities, especially on a large scale, speak to us and we can work with you to find ways to help reduce the amount of water your business uses, which will also contribute to reducing your scope 3 emissions. We have dedicated teams and services that can support you in your journey towards net zero.