In a YouGov survey conducted between June 27 and July 17, 2019, 502 business people were asked to describe their company’s attitude related to the climate crisis.
The United Kingdom businesses participating in the survey included a multitude of sectors: education, accounting, retail, wholesaling, transport, technology services, restaurant services, construction, real estate, personal care and natural resources such as mining, forestry, and oil
According to Edie.net, fully 93 percent of the respondents agreed that climate change is both real and being driven, either in full or in part, by human activity. This nearly total agreement was evident in their answer to the question: “Is your business planning to be net-carbon-neutral?”
Perhaps not so surprisingly, 46 percent of respondents said their companies had plans – either public or internally published – to become carbon-neutral by 2030. A further 8 percent said their businesses had already achieved carbon neutrality.
Businesses already claiming carbon neutrality
UK-based businesses that have already publicly claimed carbon neutrality include the likes of Aldi UK, Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Neal’s Yard.
On January 24, 2019, Aldi announced it is now a “carbon neutral business” in the UK and Ireland, having pledged to both cut and offset CO2 emissions from its stores and distribution centers across the British Isles.
The German retailer claims its more than 900 stores and 11 distribution centers in the UK and Ireland are now offsetting all of their CO2 emissions.
Last week, EcoAct, the international climate and sustainability consultancy, published its climate change business leaderboard for the UK, ranking FTSE 100 companies on climate-related sustainability. Two of the UK’s largest retailers – Marks & Spencer and Tesco – claimed 2nd and 4th positions respectively.
Marks & Spencer is undoubtedly the best example of a large company making a commitment to become carbon neutrality. M&S succeeded in coming up with a long-range plan, putting it into action and seeing it to fruition. In 2012, M&S said it was fully carbon neutral – five years after launching its sustainability project, “Plan A.”
Neal’s Yard Remedies (NYR) may be more commonly known as suppliers of alternative medicines and therapies, but it has been around since 1981 and has always touted its sustainability and efforts to achieve carbon neutrality.
In 2008, NYR became the world’s first high street retailer to be certified CarbonNeutral® by Natural Capital Partners, having reduced net carbon emissions to zero. In 2017 NYR became the first national company to commit to the ‘Refill’ scheme, actively encouraging customers to come in and refill water flasks, to reduce the usage of single-use plastic bottles.
These three companies are just a few of the hundreds of businesses around the world that have achieved or are working to achieve carbon neutrality, and it can be done.
For each of these organizations, the path may be different, but fundamentally, they are working as part of a bigger, global system, and this will take us closer to achieving carbon neutrality.