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Zero Carbon Business Partnership aims to aid SMEs move towards net zero

SMEs represent over 99% of business in the UK, but a third weren't familiar with net zero the report found.

SMEs represent over 99% of business in the UK, but a third weren't familiar with net zero the report found.

A coalition of business, energy, industry and education bodies have come together to help drive SME progress towards net zero.

The Zero Carbon Business Partnership includes DNOs Electricity North West, Northern Powergrid and Western Power Distribution, along with the likes of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Make UK among others.

In a report commissioned by the coalition, entitled 'Small businesses advice on net zero: discovery phase', it shows that as SMEs emerge from lockdown they want to cut their carbon, but are unsure where to start, how to get help and need to put the financial viability of their enterprises at the heart of their decisions to cut carbon .

Of those surveyed for the report, 71% couldn’t recommend a single web source for decarbonisation help, a third weren’t familiar with the phrase net zero, 40% said money blocked them taking action, but 57% placed the perceived importance of their environment impact in the top two scores.

As such, it calls for an advice service tailed for the specific needs of SMEs, which represent over 99% of business in the UK.

Steven McMahon, deputy director of electricity distribution and cross sector policy at Ofgem, said that businesses want to play their part in facing the climate emergency, so “it’s timely that they are being given the tools to do this in the year that the UK hosts the UN climate change conference in Glasgow".

“This is just the start. It’s great that some of the big players in the energy sector are joining the Zero Carbon Business Partnership to help small and medium sized businesses cut their greenhouse gas emissions and play a wider role in a cleaner, greener energy system.”

The report highlighted seven key requirements for SMEs to reach net zero; clear information, staying in business, financial and digital literacy support, trust and transparency, peer-to-peer relationships, meeting the challenge of COVID-19 and a joined-up narrative.

As such the Zero Carbon Business Partnership is developing an information service to provide the tools to meet these requirements in the run up to the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November.

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