Disappointment in new climate information hub for SMEs in Britain

Opened to great fanfare, the UK government-backed Business Climate Hub has come in for criticism from small businesses that hoped it would help them to cut their carbon emissions and provide a simple reporting guide. Richard Tyler explains in an article on The Times website.


Climate hub ‘sends small firms on wild goose chase’

The government-backed Business Climate Hub has come in for criticism from small businesses that hoped it would help them to cut their carbon emissions and provide a simple reporting guide.

The hub was opened last Friday by the prime minister and business secretary as part of a push to encourage more businesses to adopt green initiatives before this November’s Cop26 United Nations climate summit. The hub requires firms to pledge to halve greenhouse gas emissions before 2030, achieve net-zero emissions before 2050 and to disclose progress on a yearly basis. It rewards firms for doing so with a “Together for our Planet” logo, which can be displayed on websites and shop windows.

Matthew Short, who runs the Wiltshire-based chocolate maker Lick the Spoon with his wife, Diana, contacted Times Enterprise Network to express his concerns. “I got quite excited about the Business Climate Hub but after making the pledge, the tools are really just links to other websites,” he said. “I assumed there would be a tool on the site that would take you through it all in a thought-out way and help you calculate your carbon emissions.

“We are trying to write our first carbon report. We have done lots of sustainable initiatives in our business, but we have struggled to find help on carbon reporting.”

Short said that the first two links provided by the hub were to websites run by the B Corp initiative, which could be useful to some businesses but not for him because the B Corp reporting and measurement requirements are extensive. Other links went to American websites that asked businesses to register and include which state they were based in. Some asked for payment while one simply took the user back to the main Business Climate Hub.

“My disappointment was this was not like some of the other .gov websites, which are good. I expected tools for SMEs where we would all be working to the same set of standards,” Short said.

Lick the Spoon gets its chocolate from Madagascar and has worked with its suppliers to produce cacao in a more sustainable way. Short said that its packaging was plastic free, it had reduced its water usage, and installed LED lighting and a heat pump at its premises. It has recently applied for planning permission to install 12kW solar panels on its roof.

“As I understand it under scope 1 [direct emissions] and scope 2 [energy consumption] we are carbon neutral,” Short said. “I can’t work out if the solar panels will make us carbon negative or not if we sell back excess to the grid. I really don’t want to greenwash it.

“If we have done so much and I can’t find [the Business Climate Hub] useful then I think it needs to be a bit simpler for others who have not done anything at all.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “The SME Climate Hub equips small businesses with a comprehensive library of tools and resources they need to cut emissions.

“We have plenty of resources for businesses of all sizes, and continue to work closely with third parties including Oxford University and Google, to streamline these resources.”

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