Yesterday, 14 August, the UK government unveiled a new “one-stop shop” aimed at assisting small businesses in their efforts to lower carbon emissions.

The UK Business Climate Hub represents a joint effort between the government, the business community, and industry associations. This hub will serve as the UK’s counterpart to the SME Climate Hub, a worldwide initiative launched in 2020 to motivate SMEs to act on climate change.

A study released the previous year by Sage and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) indicated that SMEs are responsible for 44% of the UK’s non-domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, even with the aspiration to adopt greener practices, 90% felt hindered by challenges, from financial constraints to the struggle of identifying appropriate solutions.

Emphasis on economic advantages

This research also highlighted that the primary perceived advantage of adopting greener practices was cost reduction. The UK Business Climate Hub’s communication emphasizes assisting SMEs in decreasing energy consumption, thereby saving money, especially when many are grappling with inflation and increased business expenses, partly due to significant energy price hikes.

In introducing the new platform, Graham Stuart, the minister of state for energy security and net zero, remarked:

“More businesses are recognising the business benefits of reaching net zero and we’re determined to empower them to do so. The new UK Business Climate Hub is a one-stop-shop for businesses to find practical advice to reduce their carbon footprint and save on their energy bills.”

This new platform provides actionable insights and recommendations in eight domains, from building and residential energy consumption to electric transportation, supply chain considerations, and product labeling and certification.

Tailored strategies for industries

The hub has received support from the newly established Net Zero Council, an entity formed earlier this year to foster collaboration between top business executives, policymakers, and the government. This council has crafted a business strategy framework that facilitates collaboration among industry professionals to create industry-specific strategies.

Jane Tait, an ESG-focused customs consultant at the Institute of Export and International Trade (IOE&IT), emphasizes the crucial role of SMEs in the UK’s economic expansion and their need for assistance in ESG adherence.

“The SME sector is the key to economic growth and it also falls squarely in the UK levelling up agenda too. This sector needs support, like the government has announced, and it will enable them to become more compliant and better able to report along ESG lines for future green financing to become a reality.”

Obstacles in the environmental domain

The announcement of the hub’s inauguration coincides with findings from the trade union Prospect, which reveal that professionals in the environmental sector believe that staffing shortages, especially experts and specialists, coupled with inadequate compensation, might impede the UK’s transition to net zero.

The Guardian has noted that 40% of those surveyed witnessed a decline in expert personnel, leading to significant impacts on workload.

Sue Ferns, Prospect’s senior deputy general secretary, conveyed to the Guardian that, “Despite the government talking up the potential of green jobs, it is failing to put in place the funding needed to make working in the natural environment the aspirational career that it should be.”