From 17th May 2019–Eight-sustainable-business-gamechangers-for-2020/386?utm_campaign=All%20exprom%20-%20April%20&utm_source=AdestraCampaign&utm_medium=Email


The first carbon budget (2008-12) has been met, and the UK is currently on track to outperform the second and third carbon budgets leading up to 2022 – but it is not on track to meet the fourth, which is for the period from 2023 up to 2027. We are at a climate turning point, where a 2 degree (C) temperature rise shifts from being a risk to a reality.

However, hitting the emissions targets required to halt this new reality to at least 1.5C or below has been broadly successful until this moment – at least from the UK’s viewpoint. Based on the latest figures from the Committee on Climate Change, measured from 1990 levels, emissions have now fallen by 43% overall – but outside of power and waste sector, cuts have plateaued.

The main drivers for emissions reduction have still been from electricity generation, which have fallen by 59% between 2008 and 2017, and the shift away from coal usage and better energy efficiency measures from lightbulbs to building performance. The remainder of the economy needs to catch-up, fast.

More than 40% all UK CO2 emissions are still linked to the construction and operation of the built environment – and although the level fluctuates due to building growth cycles – the overall level of emissions has decreased from 1990 levels, according to the UK Green Building Council.

However, heating of buildings accounts for more than 10% of the UK’s emissions alone – and when you consider 80% of buildings existing in 2050 have already been constructed – the challenge for the UK construction sector is huge.

Despite the UK progress in some areas of power and waste, globally atmospheric CO2 concentrations have continued to rise and now exceed 400 parts per million. This is against the equally worrying backdrop of only 16 countries from the historic Paris Agreement setting goals for emission cuts that clearly match their nationally determined contributions.

The time for change is now. In October 2018, YouGov revealed two-thirds of UK businesses were yet to set emissions targets. But all is not lost – the same survey revealed 73% of respondents claimed sustainability was “very important” to their brand.

This illustrates the gap between ambition and action – and the need for businesses to speed up their approach to adopting the ‘gamechangers’ that will help them scale-up low-carbon, resource efficient solutions.

Companies have taken action, including through the Science based Targets (SBTi) initiative, which provides companies with a clearly defined pathway to future-proof growth by specifying how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring that, as a result, they reduce the potential temperature rise to at most 2C. But only a handful of companies have undertaken such a target to date.

Alongside the SBTi, companies are also committing to longer term ‘net zero’ goals which aim for firms to have no impact on the climate at all, in terms of carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, by the middle of the decade.

Private sector target setting has been matched by the UK Government, which has set out ambitious plans through its Clean Growth Strategy that aims to decarbonise all sectors of the UK economy throughout the 2020s with a plan to be carbon neutral by 2050. Many companies, as can be seen in this report, have taken the bull by the horns and begun radical climate action. Now is the time for game changing opportunities to become the new normal.