News 16 January 2020

Lack of know-how holding back UK carbon reduction, despite a third of UK businesses having a net zero strategy

  • More than a third (36%) of UK businesses currently have a strategy to achieve net zero carbon or plan to make one
  • On average, these businesses expect to reach net zero carbon by 2029
  • However, nearly half (47%) of these companies don’t have a plan in place to achieve net zero by their target date

As 2020 rings in a new decade, Brits are thinking about their resolutions for the year ahead, with doing more to protect the planet sure to be top of the list for many. New research by Mitie Energy has found that helping the environment isn’t just on the mind of consumers, as over a third (36%) of UK businesses say they now have or are currently planning a strategy to reach net zero carbon emissions, according to their energy decision-makers.

The survey showed that when it comes to cutting carbon, there is ambition among UK companies. On average, businesses working towards net zero carbon expect to reach it by 2029 – 21 years ahead of the Government’s 2050 target for the whole of the UK. In fact, nearly half (48%) believe they will achieve this milestone by 2025 and a further fifth (21%) by 2030. Surprisingly, one in ten (10%) expect to be net zero by the end of 2020.

However, what’s most striking about the results is that for many energy decision-makers, there is no ‘how’. Nearly half (47%) of businesses working towards net zero, don’t have a plan in place that will see them reach their target by their estimated date. For businesses without a net zero carbon strategy, when asked why not, it’s clear that many need a helping hand. A fifth (18%) say they don’t have the time or resources to create a net zero plan, while one in six (15%) don’t have the expertise in-house. Surprisingly, around one in five (21%) simply hadn’t thought about it yet.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Many British businesses are already doing their part to help the planet by reducing the amount of carbon they produce. The top five most common activities that are being used by businesses with a carbon reduction strategy are:

  1. Reducing and reusing resources (56%)
  2. Reducing energy/carbon consumption in offices (52%)
  3. Staff education (44%)
  4. Procuring green energy (39%)
  5. Reducing the amount of travel (39%)

The statistics demonstrate that these businesses are now focusing on reducing carbon production in the first place and moving away from simply offsetting, which was the third least-popular option (19%). The least used initiative is the setting of Science Based Targets*. Only one in ten (10%) respondents have incorporated them into their plans to cut carbon.

The Mitie Energy team is seeing first-hand this shift by business towards lower carbon energy production over the last 12 months. For example, services such as Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), which help businesses source affordable renewable power by directly contributing to the production of renewable energy infrastructure, had a boost in popularity in 2019.

Peter Nisbet, Managing Director, Mitie Energy, said:

“It’s amazing to see the ambition of UK businesses, however we’re surprised that so many believe they will reach net zero carbon emissions by just 2025, as this is an incredibly bold target and far further ahead than what we are hearing from the market. With only half of these companies actually having a plan in place to reach their goal, if these ambitions are going to be achieved, action needs to be taken now.

For those who aren’t sure where to start, there are simple steps any business can take. Stepping back to take stock and calculate the baseline carbon intensity across the entire business is an ideal starting point for developing a Carbon Management Strategy. This ensures every aspect of operations has been considered, driving a clear focus on the biggest carbon areas to tackle in a net zero action plan.”

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