2030 net zero carbon goal adopted by Business West – with a vow to help firms reach same target

December 23, 2020

Business West, the region’s largest business organisation, is aiming to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and has introduced three new steps to help it – and firms across the South West – reach the ambitious target.

The organisation, which runs the Swindon and Wiltshire Initiative and represents 23,000 businesses across the region, is already carbon neutral, meaning that while it generates some emissions, these are offset to take its overall net emissions zero. 

Becoming zero carbon means it will produce no carbon emissions at all.

The move goes further than Swindon Council’s ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030. The UK government has committed to make the country net zero by 2050.

Business West this week issued a climate change position statement outlining three concrete steps towards reducing carbon emissions and accelerating the decarbonisation of business activity across the region.

The three steps are:

  • Reducing direct and indirect carbon emissions. Business West has developed a plan to reduce its emissions and has already started sourcing its electricity from renewable sources through Ecotricity and has put in place a number of measures to reduce carbon emissions including installing voltage optimisation at its head office, installing LED lighting and more energy efficient equipment to reduce electricity demand, zoned heating controls and improved insulation to reduce heating demand. Its remaining emissions are balanced using Gold Standard Verified Emission offsets.
  • Engaging business. Business West is committed to supporting its members and the wider business community to make a ‘just transition’ on their journey towards net zero and climate resilience while enhancing and protecting natural assets globally.
  • Accelerating the region. Business West is deepening its commitment to working with stakeholders on transitioning the region to meet net zero targets and achieving a climate and nature resilient economy and place. 

Business West chairman Iain Wolsey, pictured, who has overall responsibility for setting the organisation’s governance standards, including its social and environmental responsibilities, said: “Climate change is a defining issue of our time and it is Business West’s view that business can make a pivotal contribution towards the rapid transitions required to overcome the challenges that it poses.

“Far from being the sole preserve of scientists and activists, climate change is now a mainstream business issue. There can be no prosperous future generated at the expense of the environment – businesses must act now.”

He said Business West recognised the importance of taking immediate action to tackle climate change, both in terms of its own operations and as a beacon for the local business community.

“As a leadership and membership organisation that supports 23,000 businesses across the South West, we are an organisation with the scale and influence to support and challenge the business community to prepare and adapt to meet the challenges of climate change,” he said.

“The publication of the Business West Climate Statement therefore serves as public record of our commitment to tackling climate change and aiding the transition to a sustainable and resilient local economy.”

One of the key architects of the Climate Statement is Bristol Initiative manager Nina Skubala, who in 2015 acted as vice chair of Bristol Green Capital Partnership and spearheaded Bristol’s successful European Green Capital bid. 

Nina, pictured, said: “This statement firms up and builds upon our existing environmental commitments as cosignatories of the International Chambers of Commerce Chamber Climate Coalition and adherents to the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System.

“We developed this statement by working in close consultation with staff, members and partners. We have also formed a climate advisory group, made up of business and community leaders from organisations including Jacobs, Arup and Bristol Green Capital Partnership to leave no stone unturned in formulating our response to climate change.

“The result is a comprehensive organisational framework which takes account of the need to prioritise carbon reduction and offset carefully using verified schemes which support the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“It also recognises the important role that Business West plays in the local business eco-system, and its duty to challenge and support local businesses to take action.”

She said as a values-led organisation, Business West was clear that its statement represented a firm and ongoing commitment to tackling climate change for future generations and was not simply posturing.

It will be enshrined as part of the organisation’s accreditation for B Corp status and would not only help it monitor its progress toward its goal of net zero carbon by 2030, but also hold it accountable to itself and the business community it serves.

B Corp businesses must meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems.

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