Working towards achieving net zero carbon emissions during 2021

For many businesses in the UK and throughout the entire world, reducing carbon emissions with the intention to reach net zero carbon remains one of their top priorities.

Climate change still remains a real and formidable threat to the whole planet, and scientists have warned that significant changes are required to avoid catastrophic, environmental  events. These events could have effects that could drastically change the landscape of several industries in the UK and throughout the world.

Such circumstances are driving global enterprises like PepsiCo and Microsoft are making strides towards greater sustainability, increased use of renewables and achieving net zero carbon. Members of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) aim to take drastic action, and, fortunately, many UK Governmental bodies and private organisations are also getting on board.

The UK Government has set its net zero target for 2050, alongside planning to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 to steer one of the biggest contributors to the UKs carbon emissions towards more sustainable sources.

Now, in the current context of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the UK Government has ambitions to seize the opportunity and launch a new green recovery plan to accelerate efforts in the fight against climate change.

While this can be a daunting task for UK businesses who may be lacking immediate resources, the same opportunity exists for them to move closer to meeting net zero carbon emission targets that can achieve savings on overheads.

Business challenges for achieving net zero carbon

When thinking about the challenges that businesses face on their journey to net zero, most likely  the financial implications will be at the top of the list. A comprehensive and long-term plan to net zero emissions will be complex, and often require significant capital investment or a robust funding model. The larger the company and the more complex its operations, the more investment will likely be required. However, not being left behind in the energy landscape is a crucial part of securing the long-term future of an organisation.

How businesses can move towards meeting net zero carbon targets

A survey conducted by facility management firm Mitie of, with representatives from over 500 businesses across multiple sectors, found that the first challenge comes long before this stage; planning the strategy. The main reason for this, according to the findings, is a lack of ‘in-house expertise’ and resources leading to overly-ambitious targets (some aiming for as early as 2025), and an inability to plan an achievable route to net zero.

Considering the aforementioned ‘lack of expertise’, the first step to developing a strategy to net zero is education. By educating staff, gathering the appropriate resources, and seeking expert advice, businesses can create the foundations on which to build their carbon targets and objectives, enabling them to set specific, time-bound, and achievable objectives to confidently work towards.

Once these objectives are defined the business must consider how its net zero plan will be funded. For many companies, unfortunately, it’s not as simple as dipping into the cash reserve, and it’s highly likely that some of the activities or projects undertaken on the path to net zero will provide little-to-no financial return, particularly when looking at decarbonising the supply chain, which can often eat into profit margins. On the other hand, some projects can provide an attractive ROI and save you a lot of money in the long run, such as energy consumption reducing projects like voltage optimisation.

The easiest way to fund a net zero strategy is through a phased approach, and this could include many different funding options for the differing projects that make up the strategy as a whole. For example, a switch to renewable energy could simply involve purchasing energy from a 100% renewable energy provider. Or, if your business has the space available, you may consider purchasing your own on-site generation through solar PV and wind turbines with capital expenditure, with an acceptable payback period from the reduced costs of energy ultimately paying for the project.

Alternatively, your business could reap the benefits of various funding solutions, such as revenue sharing agreements or power purchase agreements (PPAs) to reduce or eliminate upfront capital cost on applicable projects.

With so many funding options available, it’s important that businesses do their research to find the right solutions for them, enabling them to achieve their net zero goals on-time, and in an affordable manner.

Going from talking the talk to walking the walk

Once a net zero strategy and funding plan are in place, businesses must stick to it. This will often be a long, phased approach entailing various significant changes to the business’s operations along the way.

Additionally, for a full net zero strategy to be successful, stakeholder and employee buy-in is required to ensure new processes are followed and championed throughout the business. This could mean a complete shift in the company’s culture and will take some time, but without it, achieving net zero will be considerably more difficult.

If your business, like many others, is concerned with being overwhelmed by the task of reaching net zero, Powerstar can help your business plan its journey. If lack of expertise is holding your plans back, our energy industry experts and R&D focused culture means expert consultants can provide precious assistance in the planning of a long-term strategy to reduce carbon emissions and achieve substantially.