Net zero and your business

Why should your business act on net zero? There will soon come a time, and we might be there already, when many businesses are asking – why would you not?

It’s easy to think that net zero will require lots of time and investment, or to feel so overwhelmed with where to begin, that you struggle to make a start – even if you have the desire.

It’s true that net zero for most businesses will be a long-term journey. It’s also true that planet aside, net zero offers considerable opportunities – to save money, for supply chains, and reputation, to name a few – as well as helping your business be more resilient for changes in regulation and the climate, so that you can continue to operate successfully into the future.

OxLEP Business asked some of those championing net zero in Oxfordshire why they think it is important for businesses to act…

Alison Grunewald, from the Low Carbon Hub and Energy Solutions Oxfordshire (ESOx):

Why should businesses think about net zero?

The task to get to a zero-carbon energy system is urgent. Over 70% of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate heating come from the use of energy. The environmental impact of our fossil fuel energy use is being felt here in Oxfordshire, with more severe weather, flooding and summer heat extremes due to climate change. This isn’t just a global problem, its a local one too.

Businesses use a third of the energy consumed in Oxfordshire. There may be only 18,400 business premises in Oxfordshire compared to 295,500 homes, but collectively they use more energy.

What can a business do?

Businesses can reduce their carbon emissions by doing three things:

  1. Stop wasting energy – by reducing unnecessary energy use and ensure the fabric of their premises, the equipment they use and the way they heat and cool their building is energy efficient.
  2. Become a fully electric business – our electricity grid is decarbonising but our gas grid will never be able to. International Energy Agency data shows the UK generated 41.5% of its electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar power in 2022, up 10.5% from the year before. That’s rapid progress that is getting very little mention in the press.
  3. Generate their own green electricity, or buy it from others – those with suitable roofs can install photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, which are coming down in price and going up in efficiency. Alternatively businesses can buy gas and electricity from a specialist green energy company, or ask their current supplier to increase the amount of energy from green sources, by switching to a green tariff.

What’s in it for businesses?

Cost savings – energy efficiency measures save money year after year and not all of them need to come at a capital cost. Activities like checking the programming on hot water, heating and cooling is correctly set is zero cost.

Increased comfort – large fluctuations in temperature and draughts are bad for all building users, customers and staff alike.

More business and contracts – research shows that consumers are ethically motivated and larger public authorities and corporates are increasingly asking their supply chains to provide evidence of net zero commitments.

So it doesn’t matter where you are starting from, begin…

Need further support?

If you have questions on net zero for your business or for fully funded information and advice, please email oxfordshirenetzero@oxfordshirelep.com or call 0345 241 1196.