The impact of not taking action and what this could mean for your organisation

There is a collective drive to reduce energy usage and reach zero carbon targets, but what would happen if you didn't take action? Read our thoughts here.

Posted on May 16, 2022

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The focus on carbon reduction and reaching net zero is on everyone’s agenda and in recent weeks we have spent time highlighting the importance of knowing your organisation’s carbon footprint and why it’s important to have a net zero plan in place to help you on your journey.

But what if you didn’t act?

What are the impacts of staying as you are with no changes?

Naturally, all organisations are different so our thoughts below are not tied to a specific example or sector but more of a general overview and hopefully they will highlight some key issues.

Energy markets, costs and security of supply

The energy market is currently extremely volatile and is causing a lot of uncertainty for both public bodies and the domestic markets.

When contemplating your Net Zero journey a key aim is to use less energy. If you reduce the amount of energy you are consuming, as well as reducing your carbon footprint, this will naturally result in you buying less energy. This consequently reduces your exposure to volatile market prices both now and into the future.

Another way to reduce your dependency on the market would be to produce your own energy. For example, you could look at self-generating, renewable forms of energy and moving away from fossil fuel heating sources.

An additional benefit of this approach is that, in reducing your consumption or generating your own energy, you are reducing your reliance on the market and external sources and so increasing the security of your supply.

If we look at the current situation of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, this has highlighted the dependency that a number of countries have on Russian gas. Many of them are now looking to move away from using Russian gas and are searching for other energy sources. The UK’s reliance on overseas energy sources not only leave us exposed to price volatility and risk to security of supply but also political or moral considerations relating to those countries supplying energy and hence receiving revenue from the energy they sell.

The two key actions a public body can take to minimise its exposure to price volatility, security of supply and political/moral concerns are:-

  • Reducing energy usage through energy efficiency.
  • Replacing traditional overseas energy sources with local generation.

A first step is to Review your current carbon footprint and energy sources. These underlying principles of Review, Reduce and Replace are the heart of our Zero Carbon Future solutions. A mix of public sector frameworks, consultancy expertise and project management support to help you on your journey to Net-Zero.

Responsibility

The political aspect also has a bearing closer to home. Councils in the UK have made a commitment to the public through their climate emergency declarations, and they need to deliver on these.

If you are a Council, your communities' eyes will be on you to see what you are doing in terms of reducing energy and reaching the net zero targets that have been set. Public sector organisations need to lead the way and demonstrate what action can be taken and what results are attainable. This also applies to central government and the responsibility they have for the country as a whole and for providing guidance that public sector bodies can follow and support to reach the goals.

There are groups out there, for example ClientEarth, who are closely monitoring the actions taken and are holding councils to account by taking legal action if a declaration has been made but no action has been taken.

Let us also look at the educational responsibility and not just for our education sector customers, but for everyone. We all have a responsibility to the planet and to do our bit to ensure that future generations are not suffering and that we still have a planet to live on. You may have heard the phrase ‘There is no Planet B’ and it's true. We have a responsibility to show our children and future generations how we look after our planet and how important that is. These are conversations that need to be happening now.

It can be quite easy to think of ourselves in silos, whether that is within our organisation, in our council district or even in our own homes. That our contributions or the actions we decide to take will not make much of a difference or even that it is simply someone else’s problem to solve. This approach, as you can imagine will have a devastating impact because globally, we all need to contribute to looking after our planet. Our contributions will help to mitigate the risks of climate change.

Getting left behind

Organisations are moving ahead with their zero carbon plans, and it is not a time to disregard these declarations and move them down the priority list. If you do, there is a risk of being left behind.

For example, when it comes to funding opportunities.

Funding applications need detail, they need thorough plans on the projects you want the funding for, the actions you’re going to take and even the supplies you may need. If you want to apply for funding but don’t have a plan in place, then the application and bidding process is going to be tough. Preparation is key!

Let’s also look at Electric Vehicles, you might find that other local authorities have several charging points set up in their districts already to encourage the use of these vehicles and contribute to lowering those area’s carbon emissions. The use of EVs is on your agenda but you haven’t considered the infrastructure of this yet and so are already behind what others are doing.

Conclusion

Reaching net zero, reducing energy usage and achieving climate goals are a big topic and focus for everyone. There is a lot of pressure on the government, local authorities and councils to lead from the front as well as pressure from communities, groups and individuals.

As you have read above, we have mentioned a few areas in regard to impact through lack of action and we believe what is clear is the message that it’s important to start now.

Start having the conversations, start investigating what needs to be done and start acting. Let’s work together to ensure that the impacts of inaction are reduced or better yet not there at all.

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If you would like to speak to a member of our Zero Carbon team about how we can support your public sector body with achieving its net zero goals please use the contact us using the button and we will be in touch.

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