By 2020, we’re aiming to have reduced our carbon emission by 37% on 1990 levels, and our future carbon budgets are no less ambitious; they’re currently set at a 51% reduction by 2025 and a 57% reduction by 2030.
Are our targets feasible?
We comfortably achieved the first (2008-12) and second (2013-17) carbon budgets, and as our emissions were 43% below 1990 levels in 2017, we’re also on track to outperform the third carbon budget (2018-22), which is set at 37%.
We’re undoubtedly moving towards a greener Britain, and now that the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) is in place, we can expect to see new lower carbon processes, technologies and systems emerge that will help us to lower emissions further. But this doesn’t mean that we can afford to be complacent. While we may be well on the way to achieving the third carbon budget, the Committee on Climate Change has warned that we’re not on track to meet the fourth (2023-27) or the fifth (2028-32).
In the CGS, the Government stated that we must reduce our emissions by 5% every year to 2032 in order for us to meet the fifth carbon budget – the reduction in 2017 was around 4%, so it was not enough. In fact, the Government admitted that it was unlikely to meet the fourth and fifth carbon budgets in the CGS. They predict that they will deliver around 94% and 93% of their required performance for these budgets.
What can businesses do?
While achieving our carbon budgets clearly isn’t the sole responsibility of businesses, business and industry is one of the six key areas outlined in the CGS as being responsible for the UK’s carbon emissions. Businesses account for 25% of UK emissions, so it’s crucial that organisations are on board if we’re going to meet our carbon budgets.
The CGS provided us with some much-needed clarity on the Government’s plans for our clean energy transition, but it provided little in the way of actionable insights for businesses to use to reduce their emissions – so here are our recommendations:
A recent report has found that the UK’s industrial sector could save a combined £540m on its annual energy spend by adopting new energy technologies like solar and battery storage.
Whether your business is industrial or not, you could see some significant benefits by investing in distributed energy technology. There are a number of options on the market, and the right solution for your business will depend on your unique requirements – if you have a lot of roof space, for example, solar could be ideal.
Around 40% of the UK’s energy is used to generate heat, so choosing a low-carbon heating system could be one of the best ways your business can contribute to meeting our carbon budgets. According to BEIS, a CHP system can reduce carbon emissions by up to 30% compared to conventional generation, and users can also save around 20% on their energy costs– so it could pay to explore whether CHP is right for your business.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), improving energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry and transport can deliver 38% of what is needed to limit the global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius by 2050.
If you’re wasting energy, then you’re creating carbon emissions that could be avoided, so ensuring that your business is as energy efficient as possible could make a real difference to your carbon footprint. One of the easiest ways to do this is by installing a Building Energy Management System (BeMS), as they can manage up to 95% of your site’s energy consumption. They continually monitor your energy consumption and alert you to energy drifts or changes in your energy usage, so you can quickly fix the issue and minimise wasted energy.
If you’re required to comply with ESOS, you may already have a list of recommendations for improving your efficiency within your evidence pack. If you haven’t already acted on them, now is the time to do so – you could reduce your energy bills as well as your carbon emissions.
Whether your business has a fleet of vehicles, or you operate a company car scheme, transportation is likely to account for a significant amount of your carbon emissions.
While the ban on fossil fuel-powered cars won’t come into force until 2040, switching to electric vehicles (EVs) now could be a savvy business move for several reasons. Clean Air Zones will be in place in Birmingham, Leeds, Derby, Nottingham and Southampton by 2020, and in April 2019 London’s current Low Emission Zone (LEZ) will become an Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), meaning that heavily polluting vehicles will be charged penalties for entering these zones. So, if you have diesel or petrol vehicles in your fleet, you should think about replacing them with low-emission alternatives like EVs.
Clearly, switching to an EV fleet will reduce your carbon emissions – on average, EVs emit half the CO2 emissions of a diesel car over their total lifecycle (including manufacture and their entire energy consumption). You could also substantially reduce your transportation costs by switching to EVs, as fuelling an EV for 100 miles costs around £4-£6, compared to £10-£20 for a petrol or diesel car.
As many of the measures you can take to reduce your emissions can also improve your energy efficiency and subsequently bring down your energy costs, minimising your carbon emissions should be a key part of your energy strategy.
Inenco’s energy experts have the industry knowledge needed to optimise your energy strategy, and we can help you to identify areas for improvement when it comes to reducing your emissions and cutting energy costs. If you’d like our help, give us a call on 08451 46 36 26 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.