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In the opening days of this month, the eyes of the world turned to Glasgow, and the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), where world leaders and climate experts gathered to discuss solutions to the ever more pressing issue of climate change. Now, naturally the conference has produced a steady stream of news to stay on top of, but there’s one particular piece that’s got the attention of business owners, especially those considering commercial solar panels.
According to new rules set out by the Treasury, from 2023 most large UK firms and financial institutions will be forced to show how they intend to hit their climate targets – specifically, how they’ll achieve Net Zero. (In case you need a quick refresher, Net Zero refers to the idea of striking a balance between the number of emissions that are put into the atmosphere, and the number of emissions taken out – so that it levels out to zero.) So what does that mean, and what’s the reaction been like?
A positive step forward?
COP26 has been notable for producing some more encouraging news recently (at least on the surface of it). More governments have signed a collective agreement to limit their reliance on fossil fuels, and slowly phase out coal from their respective country’s energy mix. Now, more than 450 firms have agreed to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Not just any 450 firms either – together, they’re collectively responsible for 40% of global financial assets, equating to about $130 trillion (£95 trillion).
The UK government has been open about its intentions to increase transparency and accountability when it comes to climate targets, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak – hot on the heels of his Budget announcement last month – said that the UK is now leading the world in becoming the “first-ever Net Zero aligned global financial centre.”
It will now be left to firms and shareholders to decide how to adapt their businesses to the transition, and draw up their plans to decarbonise. Once they’ve committed to a Net Zero target, they’ll then need to publish these plans for review by a dedicated panel of experts, who will ensure that these plans aren’t just spin.
Crucially though, as things stand, these commitments won’t actually be mandatory – so there’s nothing to stop firms from simply not setting themselves Net Zero targets in the first place.
‘Doomed to fail’ without regulation
Green groups are understandably wary of the woolly pledge. Global Witness, an international Non-Governmental Organisation, says that without proper regulation, the plans are doomed to fail.
Veronica Oakeshott, head of forests and policy and global advocacy at Global Witness, said that “today’s announcement amounts to more greenwashing if it’s not legally binding”, referring to the deceptive practice of deliberately portraying a business, product or service as more environmentally friendly than it really is.
Greenpeace agreed, saying that the plan amounted to little more than a marketing slogan for blue-chip firms, and one that left plenty of wiggle room for them to largely carry on business-as-usual, rather than concentrating on fundamentally rewiring the system.
Mark Campalane, founder and executive chair of financial think-tank Carbon Tracker, said that the ambition was praiseworthy, however it meant little as the details of the plans remained murky. He pointed out that none of the financial assets concerned are currently aligned with Net Zero, and until they are then no group of companies can truthfully say they’re meeting the ‘Paris target’, set at the Paris Climate Accords six years ago.
How can solar help your business achieve Net Zero?
Your business might not be set to receive as much scrutiny as the world’s biggest companies, but there’s no denying that demonstrating your own commitment (and progress towards) Net Zero can bring some serious benefits to your business. Notably, it’s excellent for giving your business increased Corporate Social Responsibility. This refers to the idea that consumers, investors and business partners are drawn to organisations demonstrating ethical practices and green awareness. Happily, that makes achieving Net Zero a sensible long-term business decision, as well as (of course) being the right thing to do!
Commercial solar panels can provide the perfect way to kickstart your Net Zero ambitions – and that’s exactly where we can help here at Low Carbon Energy. Our experts have over 30 years of combined experience, having helped SMEs and large corporations across a wide variety of sectors transform their business’ energy supply.
Each of our installations is bespoke, and we tailor your solution on your specific energy profile, helping us to maximise carbon reductions and save you up to thousands of pounds in energy bills. Feel free to look at our case studies for just a few examples of businesses which have reaped huge rewards from solar, such as Boeing and Allertex. To find out how we can help you, feel free to give us a call today on 01282 421 489!
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