In 2019, the UK was the first major economy to make a legally binding pledge to reach net zero by 2050. The UK government published its Green Industrial Plan in November 2020, followed a month later by a commitment to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by at least 68% by 2030. The government is legislating for a requirement to reduce the UK’s emissions by 78% in 2035 (compared to 1990 levels).
The 26th UN Climate Change Conference (‘COP26’) is being hosted by the UK in Glasgow between the 1st and 12th of November 2021. The summit of governments from across the planet is intended to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The UK is part of a wider international legal framework around the climate challenge, particularly as a signatory to the ‘Paris Agreement’. At a domestic level, the Climate Change Act (2008) creates legally enforceable targets for climate change emissions.
The Act also creates the (independent) Climate Change Committee (‘CCC’), who are under a duty to prepare Carbon Budgets for Government to consider, analysing key areas of carbon emissions and recommending change. The most recent Budget was the 6th one, and the Government should shortly set out how it intends to proceed.
For England, in terms of the ‘levers’ and support available to drive the necessary change, those are largely in the hands of Government and the Westminster Parliament. In other parts of the UK Devolved Administrations have substantial devolved powers to effect the necessary changes.
There is no general pot of Government money available for all businesses to support the transfer to net zero, but there are specific grant schemes for certain purchases and certain types of development work. For example, as of May 2021 many low emissions vehicles qualify for a grant up to a maximum £2,500 for cars (in England and Wales, other schemes apply elsewhere in the UK). Similarly, until July 2021 energy intensive businesses in England, Wales and/or Northern Ireland can apply to the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (Phase 1) for support to invest in energy-efficient and low-carbon technologies.
Beyond grants, businesses might wish to look at using tax allowances to help support their purchase of technologies intended to reduce their climate impact. For example, the Super Deduction announced in the March 2021 budget can be used for qualifying plant and machinery – but only for specific businesses (e.g. sole traders are excluded) and specified goods.
We all have a role to play in meeting the UK’s Net Zero targets and our wider climate challenge targets, but we accept that the challenges for small and micro businesses may be different to larger players in the market, such as finding help and guidance to help start or continue the journey to Net Zero.
There is a range of general support for companies available on their journey to net zero, but for members of the 53 Accredited Chambers in the UK the best starting point must be their local Chamber of Commerce.
Find your local Chamber here.
The Climate Challenge is perhaps the largest single threat facing our planet. Without sustained action on a national and global scale, the science is very clear that we face irreparable damage to many of the fundamental underpinnings of our economy: from flooding destroying the places where we live and work to dwindling stocks of raw materials like water. The BCC recognises that, whilst the journey ahead is difficult, the costs of doing nothing or starting too late will be much higher.
Beyond the costs of not acting, we recognise the potential advantages of businesses acting. Our vision is of an economy which has lead the race towards net zero being in a strong position to become even more prosperous, vibrant and innovative through the rest of the 21st Century and beyond, building upon the advantages we gain from acting now.
That is why we are using our network of 53 Accredited Chambers in the UK and more than 70 affiliated bodies across the globe to advocate for the kinds of structures and incentives our members need, and to support our members to both play their part and thrive as they do so. The policy pages on this hub will be kept updated as our thinking on this area evolves.
Find out about the latest events in the Chamber Network here.
The Climate Challenge and the Biodiversity Challenge are linked, but separate. The Climate Challenge is about how we come together as communities to manage the harmful emissions we produce to reduce harmful change to our environment and, ultimately, our impact on our climate. The Biodiversity Challenge is about how we minimise our harm as a species to the Earth’s dwindling stocks of flora and fauna.