two happy people, one on a scooter and another on a bicycle, travelling to work without cars. concept for net zero

Climate change is happening now. How can businesses reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to Net Zero?

This article was co-written by Misha Bryne-Giltrow, Legal Secretary, and Peter Cooper, head of Energy.

With average global temperatures soaring to unprecedented levels, extreme weather events and natural disasters are on the rise. The world will soon face food / water insecurity and environmental degradation on a potentially irreversible scale. Climate change is no longer someone else’s problem.

Urgent climate action needed now

At COP26, for the first time, countries agreed to take action against fossil fuel and meet the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C by the middle of this century.

A new global agreement, the Glasgow Climate Pact, was entered into. Whilst this agreement is not legally binding, it has set the foundations for the global climate change agenda moving forward. Leaders pledged for greater cuts to CO2 emissions and devised a plan to phase down the global use of coal, which is responsible for 40% of annual CO2 emissions.

Businesses are being urged to join the UN’s Race to Zero Campaign – the world’s largest alliance of businesses, cities, regions, leading universities and investors who have pledged to eliminate their net carbon emissions by 2050. One third of the UK’s FTSE 100 companies have recently signed up. Apple and Microsoft have previously announced plans for carbon neutrality by 2030, whilst a recent survey of 502 UK businesses found half of them have the same aim.

However, we all need to take action now to achieve this. This is not a problem for future generations to solve – immediate, unprecedented and sustained reductions in carbon emissions are needed now.

6 ways your business can “go green” and avoid falling behind the Net Zero curve

#1 – Set a Net Zero plan

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak noted at COP26 that UK-listed companies would be required to release net-zero plans by 2023.

In order to devise an achievable and effective carbon reduction strategy, businesses must first understand how much carbon they currently emit.

There are a wealth of free online calculators to help measure your current carbon emissions, enabling you to implement a targeted, achievable strategy to reduce them. For example, DEFRA have some excellent guidance and emissions fact sheets and The Carbon Trust has a useful calculator and carbon footprint guide.

#2 – Review your supply chain

During COP26, financial organisations agreed to support clean technology, moving financial support towards renewable energy rather than fossil fuels.

In line with this, as a business, you should review your entire supply chain. This includes:

  • Your energy supplier;
  • Accountant;
  • IT supplies;
  • Food suppliers;
  • Cleaning company;
  • Etc.

Where possible, buy only from carbon neutral suppliers.

#3 – Look at ways to improve efficiency

The power sector accounts for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. To assist with this, businesses should consider the following:

  • Switch to green energy tariffs and reduce your energy consumption by not heating premises at the same time as cooling them;
  • Consider generating your own solar power and selling any surplus back to the grid;
  • Insulate existing premises or relocate to buildings with strong EPC ratings;
  • Use electric heating and induction cookers instead of gas;
  • Check the energy rating of your appliances;
  • Install low energy LED lighting and temperature controls; and
  • Switch off electrical items and lights when they are not in use. Sign up to initiatives such as EP100.

#4 – Consider your plastic and paper footprint

Bermuda’s deputy leader highlighted the impact of plastic pollution borne from developed countries at COP26, noting that whilst these countries are the biggest plastic polluters it is small islands, such as Bermuda, that are suffering from it.

As a result, do not forget to consider your plastic and paper footprints as well as your carbon footprint. Remember that every single purchasing decision should be accompanied by the question “Do we really need this”?

Eliminate single-use plastic. Go paperless. Reduce what you use. Repurpose and recycle everything you can. Join local Freecycle sites to give your unwanted items a new lease of life.

#5 – Offset unavoidable emissions

COP26 noted that road travel accounted for 10% of global emissions and these are rising faster than those in any other sector.

In turn, you should be aiming to consume less and travel less, but certain travel is unavoidable. Aim to offset the carbon emissions of such unavoidable travel and shipping through carbon credits and carbon offsetting schemes (for example, deforestation or renewable energy projects).

Additionally, encourage greener travel such as walking or cycling to work, car sharing schemes and home working and install EV charging points where you can.

#6 – Take professional advice

Finally, consider employing external help from specialist Net Zero carbon professionals.

Find out what green business grants may be available to assist you. Organisations such as the CBI,, local chambers of commerce and the UK Business Climate Hub have a wealth of useful information.

Moving forward from COP26, we should see an increase in climate change initiatives and information available for businesses to help meet their net zero targets.

If you would like expert advice on how your business can ‘go green’ please get in touch.