In June 2021 I wrote a blog describing the scale of climate crisis and actions SME’s can take. 12 months have passed and I’ve found myself asking – is the outlook any brighter?
A few moments of reflection and trawling through notes of events since, I’m sure I could be forgiven for feeling a little dour. We were all lead to believe that COP26, held in Glasgow in November, would be a key turning point. Overlooking the nonattendance from key world leaders, COP26 failed to gain consensus on some its vital goals, namely a renewed target for 2030 to align with limiting warming to 1.5°C and renewed targets to phase out coal.
The resultant impact has been limited, with worldwide progress stifled in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 recovery and war in Ukraine.
What’s The Current Status?
This sluggishness can most evidently be observed in coal strategy, with global energy conditions causing the use of coal to return to the agenda abroad and in the UK; where the government is delaying closing of the West Burton A power station to help with current energy demands.
The UK pledging to force all financial institutions and listed UK companies to publish plans on how they will transition to net zero from 2023, meaning 40% of global financial assets will be aligned with the UK’s climate goals, was a significant positive of COP.
However, recent analysis has found that despite an increase of large corporations setting net zero targets, 65% do not yet meet minimum procedural reporting standards.
Disaster news sells better than good news, but it seems true that overall climate news is overwhelmingly negative. All the doom and gloom can make small business efforts seem worthless.
Nevertheless, there were some nuggets of positivity; Finland recently passed legislation committing itself to carbon neutrality by 2035 and even a state of negative emissions by 2040; the UK Offshore wind sector is predicted to employ almost 100,000 by 2030; and Devon County council is set to have reduced its carbon emissions by 70% by 2030, a target set back in 2013.
Albeit nuggets, this news still demonstrates that there is a willingness at some level to change the way we use our planet. Although not in as short a time frame as Finland, the UK has its own net zero policy to be achieved by 2050. As large organisations also develop net zero policies, all businesses will need to conform, which is currently being encouraged by the government.
What Steps Can Small Businesses Take?
This can be challenging for SME’s, particularly given current energy prices squeezing margins. But going carbon neutral does not have to be an expensive or an overnight process. So, what can you do?
- Planning: All management systems stem off a central policy that will set out your goals, how you attend to achieve them and who is responsible for the implementation of the policy. This can be a stand-alone carbon policy or it can be integrated into your existing environmental and sustainability policies. Signing up to the SME Climate hub makes a declaration of intent to reach net zero is a fantastic start.
- Action: Identify, profile and measure sources of carbon throughout the organisation. A holistic evaluation of direct processes (Fuel usage, travel, energy sources, recycling) and indirect (such as suppliers) should be considered. Establishing a solid baseline will improve the reliability of your data going forward. Arrangements should be organised to develop these processes to reach your carbon goals and implemented within a set timescale.
- Check performance: Regular monitoring of carbon output should be conducted at routine intervals and when process changes. Performance reviews can help identify areas for improvement alongside business and technological developments.
- Adjust: adjustments should be made as necessary to ensure your business is still on target for its carbon goals.
Despite the constant cataclysmic noise around the climate crisis there are certainly wholesale changes occurring. The broad steps set out above regarding net zero follows a familiar formulae to that which we are already accustomed with in our current management systems.
Want to learn more about environmental management systems? Interested in implementing a system in your business? Learn more about the support that WA Management can provide here.
Written by Jake Sansom, SHEQ Consultant at WA Management.
Read more Consultant’s blogs here.
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