If 2020 was the Covid year, 2021 will be the climate year. Every business will have to implement a plan to achieve net zero emissions and the future will belong to climate smart businesses.
The world's largest investment groups are adopting sustainable investment practices. Valuations for businesses leading the climate charge are at a premium. Banks are increasingly gearing their lending practices toward climate friendly companies. Governments are looking at introducing carbon taxes and green incentives. New accounting guidelines will insist on reporting climate risks.
There is a lot of investment capital looking for green businesses and innovations. As a first step every business will need to develop a clear, deliverable plan to achieve net zero. The ten steps outlined below should get you most of the way.
10 Steps to Taking Your Business to Net Zero:
Switch to renewable energy in the office, factories, vehicle fleets and your equipment. There are a growing number of renewable energy suppliers, so finding the right one for your needs is no longer a challenge. Electric vehicles and tools are becoming increasingly pervasive and cost effective.
2. Hire in-office or on-site employees who live within a cycle commute - the rest could work from home. Help keep pollution down and embrace the new ways of working. Thanks to Covid-19, home working and virtual meetings have become standard practice. A number of leading companies have started trialling a four day working week. It's time to make some of these changes permanent.
3. Minimise waste and recycle everything you can. The Zero Waste movement is starting to pick up steam - try to adopt practical measures for the office setting. Become a single-use plastic free business. Recycle as much of your office and factory waste as possible. Advocate for eco furniture, sustainable materials and green packaging. Support sustainable, fair trade food and drink for your employees.
4. Lease an eco office, warehouse or factory with a zero carbon footprint. At a minimum make sure your office is as well insulated as possible for the winter and allows as much sunlight, for natural warming, during the late spring and summer. That way you will use less energy to heat your offices.
5. Train your employees in steps they can take to develop climate friendly habits in their working time and personal lives.
6. Wild your green areas. Develop a programme for restoring nature in your company's green spaces - including roofs, terraces, verges, courtyards and grassy areas. Plant trees, shrubs and wild grasses - the combination of the three provide the basic habitats for wildlife and insects while helping to store carbon in the ground. Place benches in nature to support employee wellbeing.
7. Train your company leaders in the latest methods for developing environmentally conscious business behaviours, practises and products. Read the leading books about climate change and green innovations.
8. Source eco materials and local supplies wherever possible from environmentally conscious suppliers. Look into developing eco products and services. The demand for climate friendly products is soaring.
9. Change the way you think about company meetings. Reduce meeting times. Switch to virtual meetings wherever possible. Reduce company travel. Invest in digital meeting and collaboration tools. Actively support outdoor meetings when employees, suppliers or customers are at your offices. Getting active in nature enhances employee productivity and creativity.
10. Measure your improvements and accomplishments on the road to achieving Net Zero on a six monthly basis and communicate progress to your employees, investors and customers.
Climate change is affecting your business. Covid is a major warning shot. Global heating continues unabated. Ice caps are melting. Pollution is a global killer. Consumers and employees are demanding change.
But the business opportunity for climate smart businesses has never been better. Exciting new products and markets are there for companies that take climate seriously and move fast. Every sector and geography will be affected. It’s time to put a plan to achieve net zero at the centre of your post Covid recovery.
We would like to thank the Letts Group for developing net zero plans for individuals, businesses and government and for allowing us to use them as a basis for publishing this article.
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