In June 2019, Parliament set a target for net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. This piece of legislation impacts every business in the country. In order to achieve such an ambitious target, every business needs to start reducing net emissions now. Below, Matt Greensmith, Managing Director of Crown Oil, shares his advice on how environmentally-conscious businesses can take steps to become carbon neutral.
The Climate Change Act explained
Originally passed in 2008, the Climate Change Act (CCA) first stated that ‘the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline’. Since then, the Act has been amended to update 80% with 100%, which means the target is now to officially reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. This makes the UK the first of the G7 nations to have such a commitment to being carbon neutral.
At Crown Oil, our commitment to the environment makes us acutely aware of the impact we have on the planet and this is why we strive to reduce our footprint in every way we can. We are still working towards reaching our own in-house goal of net zero emissions, but at the same time, we can help other businesses achieve their targets too.
Carbon neutral - what is it?
Before we look at how your business can become carbon neutral, it’s important to understand what it means exactly. The CCA refers to net zero emissions, which differs from ‘zero emissions’ in that it takes into account that the UK’s industrial sector will struggle to achieve absolute zero emissions of greenhouse gases. At present, electric lorries and electric tractors are not achievable for the entire British industrial sector, so the pledge instead looks at removing as much carbon from the air as we put in.
In this way, the heaviest emitters of CO2 that rely on diesel can continue to use the fuel so long as they remove as much CO2 as they produce somewhere else in the carbon cycle.
It is also important to note that being carbon neutral is an accreditation that requires working alongside carbon neutral agencies such as the Carbon Trust to achieve. To this end, Crown Oil is certified by a carbon offset provider for carbon neutral delivery mileage - meaning the carbon released from every gallon of fuel we use in our deliveries is offset through various environmental projects that help clean the air.
How to become carbon neutral
Net-zero carbon emissions are no easy feat for most businesses, so attaining carbon neutral status is likely going to be an ongoing objective that you’ll need to fine-tune every year. Before implementing any green initiative, it's worth measuring your carbon emissions to get an idea of the level of investment your business will need to make to achieve its end target of net zero CO2 emissions.
After you’ve implemented your environmentally friendly changes, it’s time to measure the impact they’ve had and assess how far there is to go. Let’s get you started on your journey to carbon neutrality with a few suggestions on what your business can do:
1. Carbon offsetting
Carbon offsetting is a very effective method of reducing CO2 footprint, whereby you engage in a scheme that compensates your CO2 use with carbon-reducing schemes elsewhere.
With carbon offset schemes you are able to choose how your carbon reduction is implemented. For industrial businesses that use red diesel (otherwise called gas oil), consider Carbon Offset Red Diesel to reduce the footprint from machinery that uses gas oil.
2. Cleaner fuels
Regardless of the type of fuel you rely on, there are blends that are renewable and already carbon neutral, such as diesel-substitute, biofuel. At the same time, there are blends of fuel that are optimized for more efficient performance, like clean-burning kerosene. Depending on how you use the fuel, there are alternatives that are well worth looking into and don't require too much investment.
3. Regular company car maintenance
Well-maintained company vehicles waste less fuel. As long as you’re doing as little as checking oils and tyres, you can save on fuel consumption over the vehicle’s lifetime. Making sure your fleet is being serviced regularly will only add to the car’s performance.
4. Fleet upgrade
Regularly upgrading your fleet is essential to reducing carbon footprint in the long-term. As vehicle technology improves, their environmental impact will improve. Making sure your company cars are as new as possible will reduce your business's carbon emissions as you phase out the older models every few years - and with business car leasing, this is as easy as ever.
5. Purchasing carbon credits
Carbon credits are not the perfect solution, but they are a practical solution for businesses that have unavoidably high CO2 output. Effectively, carbon credits allow you to pre-pay for the carbon you will emit for the year.
6. Renewable energy suppliers
As a business, you’re constantly reliant on energy and it’ll make up a large portion of your overheads. Switching energy suppliers is all the rage for the amount you can save, but as an environmentally-conscious business, you can also consider making a switch to an energy supplier with a high renewable energy mix.
The Government’s pledge to cut net carbon emissions to zero by 2050 is necessary, ambitious and achievable, but it will take every business to work as hard as they can to cut down their respective overall CO2 to zero for this to be achieved.
About the Author
Matt Greensmith is the Managing Director of Crown Oil, a fuel company based in Bury, Greater Manchester that supplies fuels, oils and lubricants to homes and businesses across the UK. Crown Oil is committed to the environment by offsetting carbon from its fuel deliveries, making its deliveries carbon-neutral since 2008.