How Businesses Can Change Today to Meet Climate Milestones

The responsibility of building a global response to climate change rests on big business. Even those not involved in the energy sector must overhaul the way they operate to create a real change.

CEO Today hears from Fokhrul Islam, CEO of Northern Gas and Power, on how business leaders must alter their organisations’ behaviour to meet the challenge of climate change.

An Inconvenient Truth, the film by Al Gore about the irreversible global effects of climate change, is turning 15 this year. While many of Gore’s most shocking predictions turned out to be true, the population as a whole still hasn’t embraced the full challenge of a global climate emergency laid out so powerfully by Gore. Gore leant on his political influence to begin the conversation around global warming, but while it did cut through to the public and political psyche in the UK, the will to enact serious behavioural change is still waning.

The UK government became the first major economy to commit to “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050 – a steep target which sounds great on paper, but will be challenging to achieve and easy to add political spin when things don’t go to plan. Instead, it is businesses which ultimately have a critical role to play in being able to meet these climate targets. Whether an individual runs a global conglomerate or a small high-street store, there are various emerging energy technologies and initiatives at their disposal which can drastically reduce carbon emissions in the drive towards a  “net zero” carbon future.

Now, more than ever, talk of renewable energy shouldn’t be limited to the ‘big boys’ of business, it should be something we are all addressing.

Why now?

Time is running out. That was the stark warning from leading environmental experts who cautioned at the end of 2020 that the world was close to hitting an irreversible turning point in relation to global warming. With almost daily reminders of the impact the climate emergency is having on society, the economy and people’s livelihoods, it’s clear businesses can and need to be at the forefront of the move towards green and clean energy.

Now, more than ever, talk of renewable energy shouldn’t be limited to the ‘big boys’ of business, it should be something we are all addressing.

The reality of the climate emergency hit the normally sunny state of Texas in the US at the beginning of 2021, with widespread blackouts occurring due to the energy grid being overwhelmed due to an unusually bitter winter. The huge disruption and the sad news of lives lost due to the wintery conditions was a shockingly visual reminder we all have a part to play when it comes to tackling the climate challenge.

Businesses are in a difficult situation; they need to recalibrate behaviour to contend with tighter budgets due to the coronavirus pandemic. The question many business leaders now have is: without a dedicated sustainability team, how will it be possible to survive (and thrive) economically at the same time as addressing  the environment? Without being able to see improvements in the bottom line, many may turn a blind eye to reducing carbon emissions. Net-zero may just become a luxury and that is something we cannot afford as a planet.

Pulling in the same direction

Business leaders must understand they play a critical role in helping deliver on green milestones and mitigating against the climate emergency. Understandably, however, there can sometimes be a disconnect between business leaders who want to support reducing carbon emissions and the knowledge around how this can be achieved.

Business leaders must understand they play a critical role in helping deliver on green milestones and mitigating against the climate emergency.

Knowledge is critical to enacting behavioural change. From the top down, business leaders must understand how their businesses’ energy usage is impacting the climate. Leaning on technology, such as ClearVUE. PRO, won’t cut carbon itself, but will allow business leaders  to get a holistic view of energy usage and understand how this can be cut – making energy costs cheaper for the business while being able to reduce carbon emissions as a by product of improved energy management. Take a factory which leaves the lights on over the weekend, or an office which doesn’t shut down every computer at night – these all contribute to climate change and also to business costs, so the win-win element of energy management is immediate.

The short answer is that we need to make climate milestones relevant to all so everyone pulls in the same direction to achieve the same goal. The cost and carbon saving effects will benefit all within the business through increased investment – visualising this and showing staff how important and beneficial this will be is crucial to enact behavioural change. Regardless of the urgency of the climate emergency, the stark truth is that some staff just won’t care about their company’s impact on climate change – that is, until they realise that a more efficient (and subsequently profitable) company can potentially equal business growth, investment in staff and job growth.

For companies with stronger cash flow, there are also new and innovative ways to allow businesses to support employees in the transition to a green economy. Investing in EV chargers, EV fleets, or signing up for innovative EV leasing projects can help deliver the push needed to improve your business’ green credentials and support your staff in making this transition.

Tech for good

The business energy sector is in the midst of a technological revolution that will help businesses reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint. Unfortunately, green energy isn’t cheap, but it is becoming increasingly more affordable and  the transition that businesses can make in the short term will ultimately help to achieve longer term green goals.

Technology will also allow businesses to reduce their energy consumption. Energy management systems, such as our own ClearVUE technologies, can help in understanding where there is energy wastage and help in cutting down on the use of phantom energy sources. Business leaders’ behaviour has to change, and technology can enable this in a way which is targeted, fast and effective. Being able to view energy usage and becoming conscious of the impact it is having on the environment will allow businesses to effectively cut carbon emissions, without it becoming an overwhelming idea or daunting starting point for small businesses. The technology invested in business energy today will support the drive to change attitudes towards green energy over the next five to ten years, and could ultimately be the difference between the UK meeting its targets or not.

If it allows businesses to increase their efficiency and profitability in the process, then all the better.

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