In partnership with GFirst LEP, The Growth Hub launched Gloucestershire’s Net Zero survey to better understand the challenges local SMEs are facing. 146 business leaders from across Gloucestershire responded to the survey, representing the voices of a multitude of different sectors and sizes.
100% of SMEs surveyed were aware of the UK Government’s pledge to be Net Zero by 2050, with 74% strongly supporting this goal.
When asked to identify the biggest barriers facing their business in reducing carbon emissions, cost was ranked the highest along with uncertainty around regulations, lack of information and lack of control.
While the way forward may bring challenges, the motive for reaching Net Zero is clear. “Because it’s the right thing to do” said 77% of surveyed SMEs. Leaders can also see the benefit to their own business with “being financially beneficial”, market positioning, plus attracting and retaining talent all highlighted as recognised paybacks for working towards the Net Zero target.
So, what is the way forward?
71% of surveyed businesses said financial support would be the most useful thing for encouraging more actions towards Net Zero. Access to information, peer support groups, sharing of best practice and a clearer understanding of standards and regulations were also listed as key factors to help businesses.
64% of responding businesses were yet to calculate their carbon emissions but are keen to do so. Over half of surveyed businesses wanted to receive support from The Growth Hub to help them make progress towards Net Zero.
In response to the survey’s findings, Toby Waller, Business Navigator at The Growth Hub said: “The survey has revealed that businesses have an appetite to act towards Net Zero. While the motivation is evident, the results however, have shown that knowing where and how to start, is where businesses tend to become stuck. For those businesses where support has been given, though gaining understanding of their current position is an important first step, auditing and calculating a carbon footprint is essential; to create a baseline from which an action plan can be created, and progress can be measured towards Net Zero.”
What actions are GFirst LEP and The Growth Hub taking?
As set out in the Local Industrial Strategy, it is GFirst LEP’s aim to:
- Establish Gloucestershire as a leader in sustainable growth by developing a baseline to determine how best to protect, maintain and enhance our natural capital assets.
- Put clean growth at the heart of investment decisions and new developments.
- Build on local green capabilities in the private sector.
- Reduce carbon emissions to Net Zero by 2050 with aspirations to go further and faster.
The GFirst LEP Board have appointed a Net Zero Champion, Emma Hanby, Associate Director of Consulting Technology at Campden BRI. GFirst LEP is leading the economy workstream of the ‘Climate Leadership Gloucestershire Group’ focusing on support for business and skills development.
GFirst LEP’s Business Groups are the ‘engine room’ of the county and represent the independent business voice. The Energy group is made up of private sector Gloucestershire businesses of all sizes, who have specialist knowledge in energy systems and renewable energy solutions. One of their objectives is to offer guidance on how businesses can effectively apply greener energy solutions to their organisations. By working with The Growth Hub, they are identifying the best methods for business outreach. Within the group, The South West Net Zero Hub Project Manager for Gloucestershire is helping to identify projects that need local capacity support such as a countywide EV charging plan. They also are identifying blockers to becoming greener such as storage capacity, biodiversity implementation within neighbourhood plans, and the training and green skills gaps.
With the support of GFirst LEP, over the last few months The Growth Hub has established a Net Zero team to provide one-to-one support to Gloucestershire’s SME leaders.
Sarah Danson, Director of Strategic Growth for GFirst LEP and The Growth Hub said: “We believe that every leader has a role to play in our target to reach Net Zero. It is our aim to break down the potential barriers so that as many businesses as possible can get on board. Just like our support for EU Exit and COVID-19 over the last two years, The Growth Hub is here to help, support and simplify.
“With two successful Net Zero focussed events already held at our Gloucester and Cirencester Growth Hubs, we look forward to hosting more events and workshops with local businesses in the near future.”
Toby Waller, Business Navigator, and Andrew McKenzie, Sustainability Specialist Business Guide at The Growth Hub have been supporting local businesses to identify actions and signpost helpful resources and contacts.
What can your business do to get started?
As a Gloucestershire business, you have plenty of options:
- Make a climate commitment: join thousands of fellow SMEs in the same position and work together to make changes to fight climate change.
- Bookmark The Growth Hub Net Zero page:this is where The Growth Hub will be publishing news, events, research, and resources to help local businesses.
If you’d like to access The Growth Hub’s support, you can contact The Growth Hub’s dedicated Net Zero team directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org