Business

Small businesses in Northern Ireland asked to cut emissions in half by 2030 in new UK Government campaign

Close Up Of Hand Attaching Power Cable To Environmentally Friendly Zero Emission Electric Car
Ryan McAleer

SMALL businesses in the north are being asked to cut their emissions in half by 2030 and achieve ‘net zero’ status by 2050, in a new UK Government-led drive.

Climate change has quickly moved up the corporate business agenda in recent years, with major businesses and organisations making pledges to cut emissions or achieve ‘carbon neutrality’.

But the onus is now being put on thousands of small and micro businesses which make-up the vast majority of enterprises in Northern Ireland.

As part of that drive, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will today launch the ‘Together for our Planet’ business climate leaders campaign.

The campaign will call on businesses to take simple but significant steps from turning down the heating and installing energy saving light bulbs, to adopting electric vehicles and other cleaner forms of transport.

Belfast-based Bailie Group will be among the small businesses attending today’s launch in Downing Street.

Formerly known as The Baird Group, the company comprises a group of agencies and consultancies.

Belfast refill shop Refill Quarter was created in response to the growing demand for sustainable shopping and waste reduction.

Co-owner Alice Wilkinson, said reducing waste is the main focus of the business.

“It’s all about reusing packaging as much as possible and buying only the amount we need which reduces single use packaging and also food waste.

“Reducing waste is all about taking small steps, doing what we can, when we can. Whether it’s refilling a container rather than buying new or switching to an eco-friendly product, it all mounts up in the end.”

Roger Pollen from the Federation of Small Businesses, said the climate crisis is now recognized as the most fundamental challenge of this decade.

“Successfully combating climate change will require a collaborative effort of large and small businesses, all levels of government, and the wider public,” he said.

“While climate change is a substantial threat in itself, tackling it also presents great opportunities for innovation and positive change.

“The most successful businesses are those that seize a distinct competitive advantage by responding to constant change. Those that embrace the change, harness green technology, and adapt will not only be environmentally sustainable but can also generate prosperity though clean growth.”

Co Antrim firm Environmental Street Furniture is another business already taking steps.

Managing director Alan Lowry said: “For us as a business taking steps towards Net Zero didn’t just make sense from a sustainability point of view, but it also made economic sense.

“Utilising solar power made our products much more attractive in the global marketplace, where customers are increasingly thinking about the carbon footprint of the products they use.

“For other small businesses who have yet to take the first step towards net zero, I would encourage them to give it serious consideration. Small steps can actually make a big difference, both financially and in terms of the impact on the environment.”

Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis, said: “Across the United Kingdom we are taking steps together to a greener future, and I'm delighted that the Northern Ireland based Bailie Group has joined the race to zero.

"I would encourage businesses across Northern Ireland to cut their emissions and sign up to the race to zero."

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