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Why Businesses Need To Lead The UK’s Green Economy

You can boost your reputation and attract more talent if you have green credentials. It's time for businesses to take the lead in environmental causes.

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You can boost your reputation and attract more talent if you have green credentials. It's time for businesses to take the lead in environmental causes.

Opinions

Why Businesses Need To Lead The UK’s Green Economy

You can boost your reputation and attract more talent if you have green credentials. It's time for businesses to take the lead in environmental causes.

Share this article

Several lofty goals aimed at limiting global warming were outlined in the EU’s recent Paris Conference, in which 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal.

The deal, which you can read in full on the EU’s site, includes a commitment from each of the countries to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to ensure that global emissions peak as soon as possible by utilising the best available technology.

This latest agreement reflects the realities of humanity’s increased concern for the environment, with a serious worry about climate change reaching somewhat of a tipping point.

This can be seen in the dramatic increase in renewable energy sources over the past few years; according to National Geographic, solar energy capacity has increased six fold in the past five years, and a report by Greenpeace predicts that solar power generation is going to increase by a factor of 10 in the next decade.

Furthermore, combatting climate change is often the primary focus of many political discussions and regulations today, and it is right at the forefront of many people’s concerns when it comes to election time.

While several agreements like this have been made in the past, as Business Green state, UK businesses need to understand that the goals set at the Paris Conference should be taken a lot more seriously. This is due to a shift in both the public and corporate perception of the grave consequences of climate change, which is becoming an increasingly more mainstream point of view with each passing year.

solar panels

As prices come down, investment in renewable energy is rocketing

Some of the biggest companies in the world are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint, with both Apple and Disney investing heavily in solar farms. According to The Climate Group, Steve Howard, IKEA’s Chief Sustainability Officer, has described renewable energy as “the future”.

Howard is also the head of RE100, an alliance of companies committed to going “100% renewable” that includes corporations such as Google, Microsoft, Nike, and Coca-Cola.

Seeing some of the world’s biggest companies putting this much weight into reducing their emissions should be a clear signal to smaller companies as to which way the wind is blowing. They’d be well advised to follow suit, or they will be in peril of being left behind with ‘outdated’ methods as the world continues to see climate change as a bigger and bigger issue.

With ever-tighter environmental regulations to abide by, businesses need to keep a keen eye on their carbon footprint to stay within the bounds of the law.

Alongside this, businesses also have a duty to be as environmentally responsible as possible, and should do everything they can to reduce their emissions by as much as they can, regardless of what current legislature says is acceptable.

Not only is this good for the planet — it’s good for business too, as companies can use their green credentials in their marketing and PR. This could set them apart from their competitors and be the deciding factor for an increasing number of consumers.

climate change protest

Consumers and recruits often vote with their feet

One way that businesses can reduce their carbon footprint is by ensuring their workflow is as efficient as it can be. In a factory setting, this will mean reducing energy consumption by installing more efficient machines, heating and lighting and producing as little waste material as possible.

This can be done at grass roots level by training staff to use machinery to the optimum level of efficiency, which will also have the added benefit of reducing energy usage, reducing emissions, and allowing for a higher level of output.

Businesses should also make an effort to source the most environmentally friendly materials and equipment available. In the future, by taking advantage of the latest technological advances, such as self-driving cars and 3D printing etc. a wide range of businesses will be able to streamline their processes and achieve the same or improved results with less harm to the environment.

Many of these energy-saving innovations also reduce costs and improve efficiency, aligning perfectly with the business’s own interests and making them more appealing as an investment. It is no coincidence that the kind of companies that are developing these kinds of products are the very same that are part of the RE100.

Of course, the technology you use to reduce your carbon footprint doesn’t need to be on the cutting edge of science. If you’re a business owner looking to reduce your carbon footprint, start by looking at the way you do things and see how you could change to cause less harm to the planet.

For example, if you own offices in different parts of the country and your staff often travel long distances to attend meetings with one another, consider a conference call instead. This will not only save time and cut costs, but also reduce your company’s carbon footprint.

Businesses should also make an effort to recycle as much as they can by setting up systems that can be easily managed. By giving staff the option to recycle, most will, so simply setting up a dedicated recycling bin can go a long way to becoming more eco-friendly as a company.

Indeed, energy recovery, generation and saving measures in small businesses will inevitably become as commonplace as a visitor Wi-Fi access point has become today.

If businesses lead the UK’s green economy, the country will surely flourish as a hub of green technology, giving our producers the cutting edge over international competitors and boosting the economy as a whole.

Ian Draisey is MD of BayWa r.e Solar Systems

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Why Businesses Need To Lead The UK’s Green Economy

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