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What is net zero and why is it important?

What is net zero and why is it important?
In 2019, the UK became the first of G7 country to enshrine in law the requirement to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Doing so will require a drastic reduction in emissions and major investment in removing remaining emissions from the atmosphere. From lifestyle change to business decisions to new technologies, there is massive potential for us to cut emissions at an individual and collective level. Government support will be needed and businesses will, in the words of a UK Energy Research Centre report, need to make a ‘fundamental change to their business models and operating practices’.

If we are to meet this target it is imperative that government ensures there is sufficient support for businesses to make this transition confidently. Government must be more ambitious, however, and support firms to take advantage of the significant economic opportunities it provides.

But first, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what “net zero” means for your business. Reaching a point where we produce zero greenhouse gas emissions would be virtually impossible. That’s why we talk about “net zero” rather than “absolute zero”: it means that we are committed to removing enough emissions from the atmosphere to balance what we produce. In this way, we can reach a point where the emissions created by human activity are completely balanced by the emissions our activity removes from the atmosphere.

How could my business make a difference?
No matter how small your business, what industry or part of the UK you’re in, your commitment could make a real difference – to the planet, to your customers and to your running costs! Even the smallest businesses produce carbon emissions – it could be through your building, your vehicles or your suppliers. We’re asking you to take the first step on your journey, by committing to cutting those carbon emissions in half by 2030 and to reach ‘net zero’ by 2050. Net zero means that you are putting no more carbon into the atmosphere than you are taking out of it.

Where do I start and what can I do?
Going greener might look different for every business, but there are steps you can take whether you’re just starting out or further along the road to zero emissions.

Whether you are part of large and complex supply chains or an SME looking to start its net zero journey, collaboration will be key, and having a strategy and a timeline towards carbon neutrality in place now is vital. That’s why we’ve launched our Net Zero & Environment page as a central resource for practical guidance, thought leadership and useful resources for businesses engaging with the climate challenge.

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