Mitford peer Lord Redesdale and Conservative Andrew Griffith MP, UK Net Zero Business Champion, inaugurated the UK’s first fully electric ‘Carbon Battle Bus’ at Old Palace Yard in Westminster on Wednesday 9 June. The event launched the start of the ambitious Zero Carbon Tour, organised by sustainability certification Planet Mark, and set in motion a series of zero carbon initiatives, including UK businesses showcasing their sustainability journeys. The Tour culminates at COP26 in Glasgow in November.
99 per cent of small firms recognise the importance of sustainability but three quarters of them (77 per cent) don’t know how to measure their carbon emissions and need support, according to research from Small Business Britain. Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng launched the Together for our Planet ‘Business Climate Leaders’ campaign to encourage small and micro businesses to commit to cutting their emissions in half by 2030 and to net zero by 2050 or sooner through the new UK Business Climate Hub. Currently, over 40 of the UK’s FTSE 100 companies have signed up for it. However, the UK’s six million small businesses make up 99 per cent of the UK’s enterprises, employ 60 per cent of the UK workforce and generate £2.2 trillion of revenue to the economy, so it is crucial these enterprises take action and reduce their carbon footprint.
On 10 June, Heart of the City in partnership with the City of London Corporation, hosted the second stop on the Zero Carbon Tour at Guildhall. This event focused on empowering businesses to take the first step in implementing net zero carbon targets and achievable plans. The session began with a free 30-minute Race to Zero information session which introduced the global UN-backed campaign to encourage businesses to transition to an inclusive net zero carbon economy.
Following this, Planet Mark ran a free Sustainability Open Mic session, which was an open discussion showcasing examples of the sustainable initiatives from featured organisations and their plans for the future. Guest speakers including Emily Gander, head of sustainability at TENZING, and Katrina Larkin, co-founder & CCO of Fora, shared tangible examples of impactful projects to inspire their own journey.
There was also a free three-hour Net Zero Essentials Workshop that equipped businesses with the tools and knowledge to make a net zero pledge and create their own Net Zero Carbon Action Plan. The visit ended with a networking session, offering participants the opportunity to connect with others who are on the same route to learn and share insights.
Steve Malkin, CEO and founder of Planet Mark, says, “This is a key moment in time, and we are aiming to give energy and impetus to the urgency of tackling the climate crisis. By embarking on our ‘Zero Carbon Tour’, we want to accelerate information and action to enable businesses to set zero carbon targets and implement achievable steps to deliver them. Net zero brings more urgency and more opportunity for organisations to work together to tackle the climate crisis. In doing so, they are publicly demonstrating their commitments that they are organisations and brands that are here to support society and our transition to net zero. It’s an exciting time of innovation and action with the goal of a cleaner, healthier planet within our reach.”
He adds, “COP26 is incredibly important, as it places the UK at the forefront of decarbonisation to address the urgent and immediate requirement to take action for the good of society and our planet. Aligned with this, Planet Mark is supporting the United Nations ‘Race to Zero’ campaign as part of the Government’s aim to sign up over a hundred thousand businesses to this initiative. Change is in our hands and we want this tour to communicate that as businesses and individuals, together we are empowering change for a brighter future. With enough ambition and active collaboration, now is the time to solve one of the most pressing challenges we face as a generation.”
Speaking about the decision to become a sponsor of the Planet Mark Zero Carbon Tour, Simon Cox, head of sustainability for Prologis in the UK, said, “We have been working with Planet Mark for the past 13 years and, thanks to this partnership, every new logistics building we have developed in the UK during this period has been net zero carbon in construction (based on the UKGBC net zero carbon framework). With the built environment responsible for a significant proportion of global carbon emissions, we want to share best practice and encourage other property developers to consider their own long-term sustainability strategies and reduce their impact on the environment.”
Planet Mark’s eight-month digital and physical tour aims to address the zero carbon challenge by taking the net zero carbon message to communities across the UK in support of the UN-backed Race to Zero campaign, the world’s largest alliance of actors committed to halving global emissions by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. It will highlight how businesses can set their own credible net zero carbon targets in line with Race to Zero’s rigorous minimum criteria and implement plans to achieve them.
After its London stop, the Carbon Battle Bus will take to the road at the Eden Project in Cornwall, where Planet Mark’s journey began in 2013, to coincide with the G7 summit (11-13 June).
The final leg of the tour will visit farms, schools and trading estates on the road north to COP26 in Glasgow, where Planet Mark will highlight and celebrate the steps taken by the business community in tackling carbon. Additional routes may be added throughout the summer.
The physical stop-offs during the tour will provide everything a business needs to know to go net zero through free-to-attend carbon clinics as well as paid-for Net Zero Essentials workshops, which will give participants the tools and knowledge to join Race to Zero with a robust net zero target and an action plan to support it. The tour will also include press events and networking opportunities to help support businesses to get started on their sustainability journeys.
The tour website, www.zerocarbontour.com, displays an interactive digital map, which plots the route of the virtual and physical journey and enable booking onto local events. The website will also include links to book participation in tour events. It also incorporates a pledge wall, where businesses can display their commitments to reaching zero carbon emissions. As the journey progresses stories of the organisations involved in the events will be displayed on the website, building up a collection of achievements from across the business community.
Planet Mark enables companies to make year on year carbon reductions, unlocking huge business benefits in the process, from increased efficiencies and reduced costs to attracting and retaining the best talent.
The partner organisations and associations for the tour and the grand finale at COP26 include Institute of Directors (IoD), Business in the Community, CHAS, Eden Project, Fully Charged (media partners), Prologis, The Royal Warrant Holders Association, Octopus Energy, HTA, Heart of the City in partnership with the City of London Corporation, Global (media and digital member), Meaningful Business, Garden Centre Association, Westway Coaches, Arrival and COBIS.