Race to Zero: Committing to climate action

How to take the next step to boost climate action in your business

Ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow this November, the UK government is now calling upon small businesses to join in the growing corporate movement to fight climate change. With all eyes on the UK to agree to the most ambitious targets yet, everyone has a place to tackle the climate emergency. As part of the wider Together for our Planet Campaign, the UK Business Leaders Campaign calls specifically upon businesses to take action by committing to net zero emission targets.

For many small businesses the idea of becoming Net Zero by 2050 may seem an overwhelming challenge, with confusion around how this can be achieved without large expense and abrupt changes to current business practices. We are getting behind this campaign to raise awareness amongst smaller organisations in particular, and show how the Race to Zero benefits your business, and how to set targets through your iiE journey to achieve this.


What is the campaign? 

In 2019, the UK became the first economy in the world to introduce a 2050 net zero target, with the intention of ending its contribution to global warming. In order to achieve this, businesses of all sizes, charities, universities and schools will need to play their part and reduce emissions. The Together for our Planet campaign pulls all of these groups together to join the conversation around climate change and create a mass movement of green steps in the run up to COP26.

The UK Business Climate Leaders initiative is the latest phase of the Together for Our Planet campaign, with the SME Climate Commitment specifically calling upon small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with under 250 employees to commit to emission reduction targets. Through the UK Business Climate Hub, SMEs can commit to halve emissions by 2030, with a long-term goal to become net zero by 2050 or sooner and become ‘climate leaders’ to inspire others to take positive environmental action.

With small businesses in the UK making up 99% of the UK’s enterprises and employing 60% of the UK workforce, action to reduce carbon footprint presents an enormous opportunity for substantial change. As such, we are focusing our attention on what our businesses need to do to cut emissions in half in the next 9 years.


How can the commitment benefit you? 

Businesses that join the commitment will be recognised by the UN Race to Zero campaign, the largest ever global alliance committed to reaching net zero by 2050. Consumers are becoming more socially and environmentally aware and are more likely to engage with businesses that take environmental responsibility seriously. They are also getting savvy to ‘meaningless’ climate pledges and want to see evidence and action from businesses that is open and transparent. Joining the SME Climate Commitment is a great way to show staff, clients, and other stakeholders that you are thinking about long-term sustainability.

Setting a net zero target is also a great way to engage and inspire staff to get involved with green actions across the business. Targets to halve emissions by 2030 or achieve net zero are much more likely to resonate with staff and unify teams to work towards a specific goal. If staff are more engaged, they are more likely to join in with initiatives by green groups and deliver on action plans to reduce resource use both at work and home.

Cutting carbon can cut costs too, when you understand the most carbon-intensive areas of your business, from resource efficiency measures in-house to working with and encouraging suppliers to work towards a mutual climate goal. It is important to future proof your business now as those that are slower to adapt and make changes are likely to miss out on opportunities and get left behind.

How can iiE help?

Although halving emissions by 2030 may seem like a challenging target, as an iiE member you have already started this journey through commitment to a minimum of 2% annual improvement on direct carbon emissions. By building on the progress you have made throughout your accreditation journey, halving emissions can become an achievable target with support and guidance from our team. Your iiE support officer can help you to set annual targets in line with achieving a 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This will not only help you to achieve the first stage of the SME Climate Commitment, but also exceed performance for your iiE certification.

Following their SME commitment, businesses are required to report on their progress after the first 18 months and then on annual basis. In order to achieve this businesses will have to establish a baseline of emissions across all of their operations and set a reduction strategy. As an iiE member you have already established a baseline, began to measure and report on emissions and set an action plan for the reduction of key resources, putting you in a great position for the SME Climate Commitment.

Much of the work you have already completed with iiE such as having an environmental policy in place, measuring key resource use and setting targets through action plans will seamlessly feed into an SME commitment. The completion of your annual audit for iiE certification will greatly aid and feed into your progress reporting, and as you move towards Silver and Green level further actions such as carbon footprint calculation and reduction targets, travel plans, and additional projects will further increase annual reductions towards the 50% target.

As an iiE member you have already shown your commitment to promote positive environmental action. Now is the time to take the next step as the world gets serious about tackling climate change and communicate this to your staff, stakeholders and customers by joining the SME Climate Commitment.


Find out more about the Race to Zero campaign and how to join the commitment today as part of your iiE journey through the UK Business Climate Hub.