Small businesses hold key to country’s success in reaching net zero ambitions - Andrew Ward

We’re driven by our ambition to create a greener, cleaner society. It’s an ambition shared by The UK and Scottish Governments who have set the target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and 2045, respectively.

Andrew Ward is the CEO of UK Retail at ScottishPower.

Without a doubt we all have a role to play in making these ambitious goals happen. From individuals and families, through to large scale organisations that can influence change and drive more environmentally friendly behaviours within their teams.

The UK’s estimated six million small businesses make up 99 per cent of the UK’s enterprises, employ 60 per cent of the country’s workforce and generate over £2 trillion of revenue to the economy each year.

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So it’s absolutely essential that small businesses are encouraged and enabled to lead the charge towards net zero emissions to ensure we reach our decarbonisation targets.

That’s why at ScottishPower, we’re supporting the new Together for our Planet ‘Business Climate Leaders’ campaign, launched by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) which encourages small businesses across the UK to take the pledge to cut emissions while providing them with tools to grow, adapt and seize new opportunities.

To give an example, at ScottishPower, we’re focused on delivering an all-electric future that will see more electric vehicle chargers on our streets, smart meters and heat pumps in our homes and businesses and clean electricity from both wind and solar as and when we need it. We’re also extending the ways in which we can help businesses reduce carbon emissions by launching new services including using rooftop solar to generate your own renewable energy and to replace gas heating systems with the latest heat pump technology.

With the COP26 UN climate change conference taking place in Glasgow this November however, there’s never been a better time for small businesses to lead the way and implement simple, practical changes to reduce their carbon footprint.

It doesn’t need to be a massive undertaking. To play a part, it can be as simple as installing energy saving light bulbs or switching to electric vehicles. The beauty of these changes is that they have such a benefit for the businesses themselves – by taking action on climate change, you can help your business to grow, create new jobs, encourage investment and reduce running costs to save money. It also helps to attract new customers and maintain a competitive advantage over rival organisations.

The new Business Climate Hub, developed as part of the campaign, is a fantastic tool for small business owners to visit for inspiration. It provides practical tools, resources and advice to help businesses better understand their emissions and create a plan to tackle them. Those taking the pledge will become climate leaders and play a vital role in inspiring fellow businesses to take positive environmental action.

I believe small businesses are the backbone of our country’s economy and as we transition to a cleaner, greener future, they’ll also be the backbone for the country’s efforts to tackle climate change.

There’s now less than six months to go until we welcome the world’s leaders for the COP26 summit and it’s the perfect stage to demonstrate how we’re all coming together to create a better planet for generations to come. Although individually small, collectively, the UK’s small business community will have a massive bearing on whether we’re successful in doing this.

The changes small business owners make will not only benefit their own organisation and wider economy now, they will help ensure society and local communities thrive in the long run.

Our nation’s small businesses hold the key to the country’s success in reaching net zero ambitions. That’s why we are proud to be supporting the Together for Our Planet campaign to give us the best chance of coming together and achieving these vital targets.

Andrew Ward is the CEO of UK Retail at ScottishPower

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