New digital toolkit to help small firms slash carbon footprint and power nation to zero climate emissions goal

A Scottish charity has created a simple new digital toolkit to help businesses across the UK evaluate their climate impacts and formulate a bespoke action plan to cut their carbon footprint.

The eight-step NetZero Toolkit, created by Edinburgh Science, has been designed to help small and medium-sized firms to decarbonise their operations by 2040.

After answering a series of questions online, companies will be able to understand their current environmental status, commit to measurable and achievable changes and then implement them according to sensible targets.

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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up more than 90 per cent of the business landscape across the UK, so carbon-cutting efforts across the sector can play a big part in achieving neutral emissions targets, according to Edinburgh Science.

Global leaders are due to gather at the United Nations summit COP26, being held in Glasgow in under three weeks, to set out plans to limit the worst effects of climate change

Emily Stone, climate and sustainability development manager at Edinburgh Science, the charity behind Edinburgh Science Festival, said: Ms Stone said: “The toolkit offers a handy way for businesses to know where to begin on their journey to neutral climate emissions.

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“Many firms don’t know where to start to find out their carbon footprint, and they don’t have the time, resources and knowledge to figure out how to achieve green goals and then do something about it.

“The NetZero Toolkit breaks it down into eight simple steps, each one focusing on a particular area.

“It helps companies understand what the impacts of climate change could be on their work, whether it’s the cost of goods and services, availability of fuel or even the weather.

“They can see for themselves the consequences for their business if they do nothing.

“The emphasis is on action.

“We’ve developed the toolkit because SMEs can play a big role in the national journey to net zero.

“Many people think it should be up to the biggest firms because they have the largest overall impact on climate change, but together SMEs are really powerful and often very dynamic.

“It can be easier for smaller operations to achieve swift concrete action.

“They can truly make it happen.”

She says a number of organisations in Scotland, including cafes, restaurants and shops, have already started using the toolkit and have found it useful and easy to navigate.

Jon Cooper, director of boutique tea shop PekoeTea in Edinburgh, said: “SMEs have a vital contribution to make to reaching Net Zero and yet it can be difficult to know where to start.

“The NetZeroToolkit breaks carbon-reduction down into eight comprehensive steps showing you both the areas where you can make an immediate impact and identifying the hot spots and longer-term goals.

“As a family business we are determined to play our part in futureproofing our business, our cities, Scotland and our planet.

“The NetZeroToolkit has supported us to build a measurable and effective carbon-eduction strategy and so we’re keen to share this valuable resource with fellow SME owners.

“SME owners like us are vital when it comes to achieving Net Zero and we all have to get on board.”

The first step in the toolkit is to evaluate the current carbon footprint of a company’s operations, then moves on to setting reasonable science-based goals for reducing emissions.

Further steps cover a range of business areas, including transport, heating, supply chain, investments and banking, waste and freight.

The NetZeroToolkit has been built by Edinburgh Science with support and funding from Baillie Gifford, CityFibre, Dickson Minto, Galbraith, M&G, NatureScot Parabola and Target Fund Managers.

It is based on the pledge created by Protect Our Winters UK.

A spokesman for investment management firm Baillie Gifford, which helped come up with the concept behind the NetZero Toolkit, said: “We realised there was a real need for collated information and resources, without agenda, to aid carbon footprint calculations and reduction targets."

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