Government Emissions Targets – Realistic?

In the same week, both the Conservative government and the Labour shadow Cabinet have announced plans for net-zero carbon emissions targets – though with considerably different deadlines. In May, we predicted an update to the target when we answered our featured “Ask Our Experts” question.

Whilst Theresa May announced a proposal for a 2050 target (amending the 2008-agreed target of an 80% reduction by 2050), Labour’s focus group Momentum announced a net-zero target by 2030 – just 11 years away.

What actually is “net-zero”?
Net-zero is often a synonym for carbon neutrality. However, it is not the same as zero carbon. It’s important we split the hairs to understand the actual government aim:
– Net-zero carbon – means that after calculating the carbon emissions for a business, the total emissions are zero or negative. This can include offsetting where companies can invest in environmental projects around the world in order to balance out their own carbon footprints. This might involve tree planting, purchasing carbon credits, capturing methane gas at landfill sites or rolling out clean energy technologies.
Zero carbon – this means the same as net-zero, but there is no offsetting. The entire network produces no carbon, that means all power comes from clean energy and the operation of the business has no impact on the global carbon emissions stage. This is not currently a government goal – but it can be a goal for your business.

The government has a number of hurdles to consider if they are to achieve either target (neither is agreed at the point of writing), but one of the biggest is funding. One estimate is an investment of £1trillion but with no indication as to where that may come from. Suggestions have been public taxes, business taxes, and funding from fossil fuel energy providers, with another possible option being the introduction of a CRC-like consumption tax, which may put more stress on businesses to reduce their emissions.

High emissions come from the meat trade as well as airlines, but every industry should find itself under pressure either financially, if businesses are footing the bill, or operationally, if the footing is to come from consumption taxes.

Our Senior Consultant and resident Carbon and Energy reduction specialist, Mike Kenny has these top five priorities for businesses seeking to reduce their carbon emissions:

    1. 1. Energy Profiling – you can’t monitor change if you don’t track your constant profiling.
    2. 2. Green Energy – commit to as much off-grid power as you can.
    3. 3. Electric Vehicles – when considering your business’ carbon emissions, you need to consider Scopes 1-3, and one of those is fleet consumption. If you are truly proactive, that includes company cars; diesel and petrol produce considerably more carbon than their electric counterparts.
    4. 4. Waste – Minimise your business’ landfill waste with better recycling.
    5. 5. Reduce consumption – look at LED lighting, Green ICT strategies and other ways of shrinking your biggest consumers.

    If you want to make your steps towards net-zero and beyond, speak to us and we can arrange a site-visit to identify energy savings opportunities specific to your organisation.

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