Over 50% of Greater Manchester businesses not aware of UK’s net-zero ambitions

As COP26 ends in Glasgow, a recent report highlighted that 55 per cent of Greater Manchester businesses have no awareness of the Government's 2050 net-zero ambitions.

In 2019, the UK became the first major economy to pass a net-zero emissions law, requiring the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. By September 2021, prospective suppliers bidding for government contracts above £5 million a year will now need to have committed to the government's target of net-zero by 2050 and have published a carbon reduction plan. Firms that fail to do so will be excluded from bidding for the contracts.

This goes a step further along with the already existing regulation (2019) for the UK government's Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR), which requires 11,900 organisations (with over £36million turnover) to report on their carbon emissions within their directors report to Companies House.

This will also impact the UK's Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs), a sector that accounts for over 99.9 per cent of UK businesses and contributes to 50 per cent of all commercial emissions across the country. Larger organisations will require their current supply chain to also commit to net-zero whilst favouring businesses that have a net-zero plan when adding to their supply chain.

The report “It Starts Here: The Road to net-zero for GM Businesses”, produced by Q Energy and supported by results from Greater Manchester Chamber's Q3 Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) also highlighted the issues and challenges businesses face when wanting to make a start on their net-zero journey. There was good news though when it came to the motivation for adopting net-zero practices with most businesses saying their motivation was to achieve environmental and sustainable goals with a good number of businesses already making changes to their businesses.

Vijay Natarajan, Founder and COO of Q Energy said, “this report could not have come at a better time with the eyes of the world on Glasgow and the acceptance that we really are at a critical point with regards to carbon emissions. The race to a sustainable future isn’t just a race, it’s a team sport with everyone having to play their part.

“It is very worrying when 55 per cent of businesses say they are unaware of the UK’s net-zero ambitions. The question asked around the challenges facing SMEs when it came to carbon reduction highlighted that lack of information around net-zero, carbon measurements and reporting as being the main issue faced with 49 per cent of businesses citing this, closely followed by high up-front costs of solutions and services.

“The better news came from the question focusing on the motivation for starting net-zero activity with 57 per cent saying that they were doing it for environmental and sustainability goals rather than efficiency gains and/or cost savings (35%). This is surprising considering we’ve just come out of a pandemic and finances for many businesses are an increasing worry.”

“The final question focussed on what businesses were already doing on their net-zero journey with many undertaking a range of actions including practical changes such as LED lighting, turning down appliances as well as planning to install on-site renewable generation such as solar panels or battery storage.

“It is quite clear from the report that Greater Manchester businesses care about creating a sustainable future with active plans for the next 12 months and beyond, though some still see this as an expensive option.”

Chris Fletcher, Policy Director at Greater Manchester Chamber added, “it is great to have had Q Energy support the QES on such a major issue. Net-zero is in everybody’s line of sight at present but it’s clear that whilst some businesses have made a start much more needs to be done. We will be working with Q Energy to help our members make that important first step on the road to net-zero.”

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