Small businesses are urged to commit to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 and reach net zero emissions before 2050 — a milestone aimed at avoiding the worst effects of climate change while ensuring business viability.
Small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 90% of business worldwide and affect the livelihoods of over 2 billion people. They have a key impact on economies and on climate change — and they cannot be overlooked on either front.
The SME Climate Hub was founded by the We Mean Business coalition, Exponential Roadmap Initiative, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the United Nations Race to Zero campaign to help these businesses build resilient models for the future by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Partnering with Oxford University, the initiative provides SMEs with a one-stop-shop to make a climate commitment and access best-in-class tools and resources to mitigate their environmental impact.
The United Kingdom alone has 6 million SMES which generate £2.2 trillion of revenue to the economy, making them essential on the road to net-zero and a community that cannot be left behind as we transition to the green economy. Before the UK brings world leaders together in November for the UN climate change summit COP26, the UK Government is calling on companies of all sizes to join the SME Climate Hub and the Race to Zero and establish plans to meet their commitments. Together with the SME Climate Hub, the UK’s Prime Minister and Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have launched the Together for our Planet Business Climate Leaders’ campaign to encourage small businesses to halve their emissions by 2030 in line with the Paris Agreement and cut their emissions to net zero by 2050 or sooner.
María Mendiluce, CEO of the We Mean Business coalition, said: “The SME Climate Hub provides SMEs worldwide with tools and resources to start their net-zero journey by curbing emissions, managing climate-related risks and building business resilience. We are thrilled to be collaborating with the United Kingdom government to galvanize SME climate action across the UK. We hope this strengthens SME competitiveness, resilience and growth. No matter the size, no matter the sector, every business has a role to play.”
Over 700 UK SMEs have already made a commitment to net zero via the SME Climate Hub and are accredited by the Race to Zero. From apparel brands utilizing recycled plastics for textiles to agricultural innovators and car sharing service providers, the momentum underscores that the benefits of curbing emissions are not limited to any single field. These companies join the over 1,000 SMEs worldwide committed to the SME Climate Hub pledge since its launch in September 2020. SMEs located within the UK and not yet part of the SME Climate Hub can join via the UK Business Climate Hub.
Andrew Griffith, the UK’s Net Zero Business Champion, said: “The UK has a unique opportunity to come together to tackle climate change. We all need to play our part, and as small businesses make up the majority of the UK’s business community, it is critical that they get involved. There is a need for practical guidance on the simple steps businesses can take to reduce their carbon footprint and the Together for our Planet climate leaders campaign provides just that.”
Nigel Topping, UK High Level Climate Action Champion for COP26, said: “The science is clear: we need to halve our emissions by 2030 to deliver a zero-carbon world in time. This requires immediate action from across the world, by the largest governments and the smallest companies. The collaboration between the UK government and the SME Climate Hub will accelerate the adoption of net-zero business practices and bring companies of all sizes into the critical Race to Zero.”
Small businesses are less likely to have the resources to dedicate to climate action — yet from a policy and consumer acquisition standpoint, it’s a leading means to future-proofing a business. Taking action through the SME Climate Hub helps SMEs accelerate business growth; build supply chain resilience; align with shifting governmental policy and consumer expectations; and strengthen marketing and branding efforts. Large corporations from every industry and region of the world are also setting net-zero goals to align with science. In turn, this is accelerating the corporate demand for SMEs in global supply chains to decarbonize rapidly and shifting consumer interest in sustainability.
Several major multinational corporations, including Ericsson, IKEA, Telia, BT Group and Unilever, Nestlé and Tech Mahindra, have set targets to reach net-zero emissions in their value chains, and they have committed to supporting the SME Climate Hub through the 1.5°C Supply Chain Leaders group. These companies have made a firm commitment to include climate-related targets and performance in their supplier purchasing criteria – and to work with the SMEs in their supply chain to deliver net-zero greenhouse emissions before 2050. They will also provide concrete tools, share knowledge, and exchange best practices for implementing robust climate strategies through the SME Climate Hub.
Johan Falk, Co-Founder and Head of Exponential Roadmap Initiative, said: “Our vision is to mobilize millions of small and medium-sized enterprises to accelerate climate action. We want to make it possible for SMEs to commit to halve emissions before 2030. One of the strategic resources is the 1.5°C Business Playbook, a guide that helps SMEs develop a climate strategy anchored in the latest science and start taking action. The SME Climate Hub will simplify the process and make it beneficial for SMEs to cut emissions and provide the next generation of green solutions.”
We call on small to medium sized businesses from around the world to join the SME Climate Hub and the Race to Zero, and on national governments to take ambitious steps to build local SME climate action. Over one thousand companies across 65 countries have joined the movement, but we need SMEs to get on board at scale to ensure we halve global emissions by 2030. The science is clear — let’s get ahead of the curve, so no one is left behind.