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Common Myths About Net Zero Carbon Emissions

In this business energy comparison guide, we’ll take a close look at some of the most common myths about net zero emissions. We’ll show you why they’re incorrect and also give you some tips on how your business can reach net zero.

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Net zero

One of the biggest concerns for all business owners is reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. This isn’t easy. It’s made even more difficult by the number of myths that exist around net zero emissions. It’s hard to know what to believe and what emission-reducing strategies will be successful.

Reducing emissions is something we all need to strive to do. One way to do this is to find the best green energy supplier for your business. This will help your business to take the necessary steps towards a greener future.

What Does Net Zero Emissions Mean?

By now, every business owner will have heard the term net zero emissions. But what does it actually mean? It means that the number of greenhouse gases that are put into the earth’s atmosphere is balanced out by the amount that is taken out.

If no more greenhouse gas emissions go into the atmosphere than are taken out, then the amount should stay consistent. The aim is to prevent global warming by balancing out the carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere.

Net zero is also frequently referred to as carbon neutrality. It’s one of the best ways that we can combat climate change.

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In 2019, the UK Government pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2050. This was a result of the climate change discussions that were held in Paris during COP21 in 2015. At COP21, 192 parties signed The Paris Agreement. This is an international climate change treaty aimed at reducing global emissions.

The UK was the first major economy that put laws in place to stop contributing towards global warming. Laws came into place in 2021 to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by 78%.

Several legislations came into effect that encourage organisations, industries, individuals, and sectors to cooperate in tackling greenhouse gas emissions.

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How Can My Business Reach Net Zero Emissions?

If reaching net zero emissions is your company policy, then everyone in your business is accountable for achieving it. Here are some steps you can take to help your business reach its net zero targets:

  • Reduce waste
  • Recycle more
  • Reduce the amount of packaging you use
  • Use electricity from renewable sources
  • Create a greener supply chain
  • Encourage your employees to use public transport

According to a BT survey, about 75% of small businesses are not sure how to measure their carbon emissions. Below, we’ve laid out some examples of how small businesses can monitor their emissions.

  • Be aware of indirect emissions: this includes the disposal of waste, the purchasing of goods, and how your employees commute. All of these business activities contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions of your business. Keeping track of these will help you to reach your net zero targets.
  • Keep track of consumption: this includes electricity and gas consumption and fuel consumption by company vehicles.
  • Set targets: once you’ve calculated the emissions of your business, you can set targets to reduce them. You may aim to reduce emissions by a certain amount each month. Or, you may set targets that encourage your employees to commute using public transport.

Some Common Myths About Net Zero Emissions And Businesses

There’s a huge amount of information out there about net zero and climate change in general. Naturally, this has led to the circulation of many myths about greenhouse gases and global warming and how they relate to businesses.

This can make it difficult for businesses to formulate strategies for how to achieve net zero targets. As a business owner, you still want to compare business gas and business electricity prices that are available. However, you also want to make your business as green as possible.

To help you, we’re going to go through the most common myths about net zero emissions and show you why they’re wrong.

A renewable energy tariff means you've reached net zero emissions

If your business is using a renewable energy tariff, then that’s great. Yet, this doesn’t mean that your business has achieved net zero emissions. These tariffs have several environmental benefits, but they don’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Unfortunately, there are many renewable energy tariffs that aren’t what they appear to be. Some energy companies purchase cheap certificates that make their fuel mix disclosures seem greener than they are. So, if you have a renewable energy tariff with one of these companies, it won’t be helping your cause.

If you want to find the best business renewable energy tariffs on the market, use Business Energy Comparison. Our online tool allows you to compare business energy deals and could help you save up to 45% on your rates.

The net zero target can't be reached by existing businesses

This is a common myth that seems to get repeated a lot. However, it is totally incorrect. If the UK is to achieve its net zero targets, all businesses, including existing ones, need to contribute. It’s perfectly achievable for existing businesses to reach net zero.

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It’s expensive to reach net zero

There is a common assumption that reaching net zero is very expensive for businesses. Whilst there are some costs involved initially, reducing your emissions will actually save your business money in the long term.

By reducing the amount of energy, your business uses, you will save money on energy costs. Or, you may implement innovative processes that allow you to use the same amount of energy but from renewable sources.

These processes can help your business to become more resource efficient, more resilient, and more cost-effective.

Net zero targets can be reached simply by working from home

Many businesses assume that if their employees work from home, the business is closer to net zero. Whilst this may reduce your business’s emissions, there are still indirect emissions associated with working from home.

Digital tasks like video conferences, sending emails and storing data all increase the emissions of your business. One way of reducing these emissions is to ask your employees to turn off their computers when not in use. This is much greener than leaving them on standby.

Your business is too small to contribute to global emissions

All businesses, no matter what size, contribute to the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the environment. This means that small businesses can play an important part in helping the UK Government to achieve its 2050 net zero target.

Some small businesses have even set themselves the ambitious target of reaching net zero by 2030. So, your small business has a vital role in preventing global warming.

Net zero targets are just for CSR

Many businesses still believe that net zero initiatives are an act of corporate social responsibility (CSR). However, as public awareness increases, consumer behaviour is also changing.

More and more, the pressure to operate ethically is building. This pressure is coming from governments, investors and consumers. This means it’s vital to consumer confidence that businesses show their commitment to net zero initiatives.

Demonstrating that your business takes net zero seriously isn’t just for show. It supports growth, earns the support of stakeholders, and builds supply chain resilience.

Reducing your carbon footprint is enough

Every business has a carbon footprint. Although reducing it is good, it’s not enough on its own. The crucial part of a business’s net zero responsibilities is reducing emissions. This requires a multifaceted strategy that cuts emissions.

It also needs to ensure that unavoidable emissions are offset or absorbed. One of the ways to achieve this is to commit your business to a Gold Standard carbon offset project. You can also sell excess green energy and use carbon energy from net zero sources.

Remember, your approach needs to be flexible. The strategy you implement should be open-ended and adaptable. This will help you to achieve your targets and will save your business money over time.

It’s too difficult for existing buildings to reach net zero

In order to reach net zero targets, many existing buildings need to be retrofitted. This can be fairly complicated due to factors like construction type, building age, occupants, and building condition. Yet, it is certainly still possible to achieve.

To lessen the complications, it’s often best to phase in the improvements. For instance, you can gradually reduce the energy demands of your business by improving glazing, thermal insulation, and airtightness. HVAC systems can also be used to reduce your business’s energy requirements.

Your business can also adopt certain technologies to help reduce energy usage. Smart energy technology, such as automated lighting controls, lower energy bulbs, and occupancy monitoring technology, is a great way of doing this.

You can also use smart metering to monitor your equipment and identity where energy is being wasted. This will show you which equipment is the most inefficient and in need of improvement.

These are all gradual steps that you can take to reduce the emissions of an existing building. By implementing these steps, you’ll reduce the costs of reaching net zero and simplify the process.

Burning biomass is carbon neutral

Burning biomass has a low CO2 emission rate and is a more environmentally-friendly option than using other fuels. However, it is not considered to be carbon neutral in the short term. This is because it rapidly releases CO2, NOx, and particulate emissions when it’s burned.

All of these emissions contribute to local air pollution and global warming. Burning biomass can be considered to be carbon neutral over a very long period of time, such as a 100-year period. Until great advancements are made in carbon storage and carbon capture technology, burning biomass will not be carbon neutral.

Most likely, the best way of using biomass to mitigate climate change will be to plant more forests and use them for long-lived timber products.

District heating is net zero

Whilst district heating is often considered to be low carbon, this all depends on where the energy comes from. If the heat that’s used is being generated from burning gas, then it’s certainly not low carbon. If the heat is being generated by a heat pump, then it has more chance of being low carbon.

In district heating, there are inevitable losses of heat from the distribution pipe network. This affects the carbon rating of the network as a whole.

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As you can see, many of the negative things you’ve heard about net zero emissions are untrue. Some of the myths we’ve examined contain a kernel of truth but are greatly exaggerated.

Of course, reaching net zero is not without its challenges. There are costs and complications involved in the process. However, if your business has a robust strategy, then net zero will be absolutely achievable. Once achieved, the benefits of net zero to your business and the planet will be huge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is reaching net zero realistic?

On a nationwide scale, it’s considered more feasible that net zero emissions can be achieved rather than zero emissions. This is because it would be incredibly disruptive and expensive to entirely eliminate some sources of emissions.

When is a business classed as net zero?

To be classed as a net zero business, you need to reduce your admissions by 90-95%. You then need to ensure that the remaining 5-10% of emissions are offset. This is done via projects involved in the removal of carbon from the atmosphere.

Have any countries achieved net zero yet?

Yes, there are currently eight countries in the world that have achieved net zero. They are Bhutan, Gabon, Comoros, Madagascar, Guyana, Panama, Niue, and Suriname. The majority of these countries are small, which has made the net zero transition easier than it is for larger countries.