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Five easy steps to net zero and a nature-rich future

Scotland’s world-leading climate change legislation sets a target of net zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045. Put simply, net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. It is reached when the amount added is no more than the amount taken away.

Scotland is facing a nature emergency. Half of species are in decline. 1 in 9 are threatened with national extinction. Your business can help by taking action to protect biodiversity, like creating habitats for bees on your land or creating a ‘green roof’ on your building.

Any business of any size in any part of the country can play their part to help us get there and end Scotland’s contribution to climate change by 2045, as well as help us build a nature-rich future.

What can you do to save the planet – and save money at the same time? Here are five easy steps to get your business started on its journey to net zero and a nature-rich future:

1. Know your numbers

First things first, you need to know your numbers. All businesses need to understand, measure and reduce their emissions. It’s important to calculate your carbon footprint, track your energy usage and monitor your waste generation.

Identifying how your business contributes to climate change can help you identify the next steps you need to take. It will also help you to increase efficiency and reduce costs, as well as identify new opportunities for clean growth.

  • The Carbon Trust‘s free SME carbon footprint calculator is quick, easy and tailored to small businesses
  • Traffic Scotland‘s CO2 Emission Calculator enables you to calculate the carbon emissions for your transport journey
  • Delve deeper into the UK’s potential pathways to net zero with the MacKay Carbon Calculator from the UK Government

2. Start with the basics

Once you know the carbon footprint of your business, starting with the basics can help employers and employees to make a real difference. Focus on practical, tangible and achievable steps.

Make it easy for your visitors and staff to recycle paper, food waste, plastics, glass and cans. Ask your staff to switch off lights, machinery and IT equipment when they’re not in use – or explore how sensors and IoT can help you maximise energy efficiency. Encourage and enable active travel for short journeys and take the train or bus to your next face-to-face meeting. Ask the experts about how retrofit and insulation could help reduce your energy bills.

  • The Energy Saving Trust provide advice, resources and funding for business
  • Zero Waste Scotland can help you save energy and save money with their free ‘green office’ guide or dedicated one-to-one support from a specialist
  • Check out these handy tips for an ‘eco-friendly office’ from the RSPB
  • Find out from IoT Scotland whether new tech could help your business with environmental monitoring, asset management or energy management

3. Switch to electric

Transport is the biggest contributor to Scotland’s carbon emissions, because of our reliance on petrol or diesel cars, vans and lorries. By switching your company car or your firm’s vehicle fleet to electric, you can save money and reduce emissions.

Electric vehicles (EVs) produce zero CO2 tailpipe emissions. The average range of an electric vehicle is 155 miles and charging costs less than half the price of diesel or petrol.

4. Protect bees, plant trees!

Scotland is facing a nature emergency. Half of species are in decline. 1 in 9 are threatened with national extinction. Your business can help by taking action to protect biodiversity, like creating habitats for bees on your land or creating a ‘green roof’ on your building.

You can also offset unavoidable emissions with nature-based solutions which absorb and store carbon, like planting trees or restoring peatlands. Carbon is absorbed from the atmosphere by trees as they grow. Degraded and eroding peatland releases carbon into the atmosphere, but once fully restored, naturally functions as a carbon sink.

5. Go green with renewables

There can be few clearer signs of your commitment to net zero by powering your business with renewable energy.

It can be a significant up-front investment, but there are lots of different options, so consider the right solution for your business. You could install solar panels on the roof of your factory or warehouse. You could build a wind turbine on your land. Or you could install a ground source heat pump for your home, office or shop.

  • Grants and loans from the Scottish Government to help businesses and communities invest in local and small-scale renewables
  • Advice, funding and resources from Local Energy Scotland
  • Scottish Enterprise’s Energy Investment Fund provides flexible investment and debt funding for low- and zero-carbon energy projects
  • Information and advice on ground source heat pumps from the Energy Saving Trust
  • Zero Waste Scotland‘s SME Loan Fund could help your small business fund installation of heating renewables or energy efficiency measures

 

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