So, you’ve heard of COP26 – a lot. But what does it actually mean? And how is it relevant for you and your business?
Every year, almost every country comes together for the Conference of Parties (COP). These conferences are initiated by the United Nations (UN) and focus on issues related to the climate crisis. The 26th conference is taking place in Glasgow in November and has four key goals which negotiations will focus on:
- 1. Mitigation: Reaching global net zero by 2050
- 2. Adaptation: Protecting communities and natural habitats
- 3. Finance: Securing $100 billion funding for projects to tackle climate change each year
- 4. Collaboration: Success through collaboration
These targets aren’t just about governments and states. In fact, your business can benefit from them and even contribute to achieving them.
1. Net Zero by 2050
To achieve Net Zero, states must either release no carbon emissions at all or offset them with actions that remove CO2 from our environment. This is also known as being carbon neutral. It’s a priority to limit emissions because high levels of CO2 cause global warming.
While agreements made at COP events require countries to reach Net Zero, your household or business could be carbon neural neutral too.
What can your business do?
Lots of small businesses are making a commitment to achieve Net Zero at the SME Climate Hub. There, you can find plenty of tools to support your carbon neutral mission. And if you want to figure out how your emission levels are looking just now, have this free calculation tool do the work for you.
Some quick tips to start going green:
- Switch to renewable energy, fuel, and electricity
- Enable employees to work from home
- Use low emissions transport and only travel when necessary
- Improve your processes: reduce waste, make and offer bulk deliveries, turn down the heating and turn off appliances that aren’t in use
- Improve the energy efficiency of your premises (insulation, low-energy lighting, double glazing)
2. Protecting communities and natural habitats
This goal focuses on protecting and restoring biodiversity in our ecosystems as well as encouraging states to put infrastructure in place that can protect communities from the effects of climate change.
Does this impact your business?
Yes! So many aspects of our lives depend on biodiversity. The food we eat, clothes we wear and products we buy almost always contain materials from nature. We need bees to pollinate crops, diverse plants to feed animals, and healthy forests for wood. Each part of nature has its own place in the ecosystem, which, if out of balance, can lead to supply shortages.
Our communities are also part of this ecosystem. In the last year, we’ve seen wildfires, flooding and hurricanes all over the world. Climate change causes this extreme weather, which has endangered and destroyed the livelihoods of lots of business owners. So, adaptation infrastructure, like flood defences and early warning systems, can help keep your business safe.
So, now is a great time to start using a search engine which plants trees, to plant some bee-friendly flowers, or to check that your suppliers are using responsible extraction and production methods.
3. Securing $100 billion climate finance
Climate finance refers to money from governments or private funds that is invested in projects which tackle climate change. Wealthier countries, like the UK, pledged to invest a total of $100 billion in economically challenged countries, but are currently failing to fulfil this promise.
But what can climate finance do for you?
There are more and more opportunities for climate-conscious businesses to get grants and investment. Try the Climate Challenge Fund, which has already awarded Scottish businesses aiming at tackling climate change with £111 million worth of grant.
As for private investment, there’s an increasing focus on environmentally responsible companies. The Scottish Government’s Inward Investment Plan and new Global Investment Plan are both prioritising businesses which are aiming for Net Zero. This means that the government is supporting climate-conscious businesses in attracting both British and foreign investment.
4. Success through Collaboration
UN decisions at COP26 are made by consensus – meaning every participating country must agree to them. At COP26, the Paris Agreement, which legally binds states to their climate commitments, still needs to be collaboratively finalised by all attending states.
Collaborating with your business
To achieve the COP26 climate goals, it is likely that governments will have to put new regulations that will have an impact on your business. So, starting early and getting involved in Scotland’s green push is a great way to stay ahead of the curve.
The great news is that there are lots of resources to help you get started with sustainability. Collaborating with efforts to tackle climate change through COP26 and beyond can help you get funding, safeguard your business, and save the planet. SME Climate Hub is about to launch its Net Zero financial and policy incentives, so the list of benefits is only going to keep getting longer!
For more sustainable business inspiration, check out this article.