The United Nations Climate Change Conference, also referred to as COP26, was held in Glasgow at the beginning of November 2021. The conference established new actions to achieve net-zero by mid-century and meet the goals established in the Paris Climate Agreement and the UNFCCC. These goals and agreements may seem far removed from the duties of SMEs, but in fact, the actions of SMEs are crucial to the success of these targets. How can SMEs work towards these goals, and what is required to make these necessary contributions?
What are the main goals established at COP26?
The key message of COP26 is that we need to secure global net-zero by mid-century through both international collaboration and individual actions taken by businesses. Net-zero means that a country or business is capturing at least as much carbon as it emits. Essentially, businesses need to invest in sustainability and efficiency, reducing unnecessary waste and emissions.
Why does this impact SMEs?
SMEs are critical to helping reach COP26 climate emission goals. The UK alone has 6 million SMEs, making up over 99% of all businesses. If SMEs were to ignore the goals outlined in COP26, it would be impossible for them to be met. There are many different avenues SMEs can take to help meet the outlined targets that can also benefit the business itself.
How can SMEs achieve net-zero goals?
There are multiple avenues that SMEs can take to achieve the net-zero goals outlined in COP26. Each business will need individual methods for emission reduction, but there are some steps that all businesses can take to engage with the climate goals. The most common method currently employed by businesses to reach these targets is the reduction of energy use and waste – this is often through better monitoring systems and data collection, for example, the use of smart sensor technology. Larger companies also have a strong focus on clean energy and carbon reduction.
Form a sustainability strategy
The first step to achieving any long-term business goal is creating a clear strategy. Businesses need to identify their current carbon footprint and where emissions are most concentrated. They should then target each area, examining how emissions and waste can be reduced while sustainability and efficiency are improved. Establish individual goals that are unique to the businesses needs, ensuring that these goals are achievable and measurable so you can track progress. This strategy makes sure that employees, managers, owners, and all other business stakeholders are aware of the steps that are being taken.
Improve monitoring technologies
Effective monitoring is essential to improving efficiency in businesses, and it does not involve dramatic or difficult changes to business methods. Smart sensor technology provided by businesses like Disruptive Technologies is secure, sustainable, and small, with the ability to collect data on occupancy, storage conditions, and energy use. The data is stored centrally, and the generated reports can be accessed from anywhere. For office and retail spaces, occupancy monitoring provides great insight into energy consumption and efficiency. For industries with specific storage requirements, smart sensors can monitor temperature, humidity, and the presence of leaks or floods, meaning that faulty storage equipment can be immediately identified, and any temperature-sensitive products moved to functioning units before spoiling. This contributes to the waste reduction and the energy efficiency of storage facilities.
Temperature sensors on equipment to detect changes and trends, uncovering energy inefficiencies so that businesses can act accordingly. This increases equipment life expectancy & reduces e-waste whilst proximity sensors on doors and windows inform how often they open and close, tracking occupancy, optimising energy usage and reducing heat loss. The data collected from smart sensors can also help track progress towards sustainability goals.
Listen to your data
Effectively using the data at your disposal is vital – if sensors are detecting heat loss through old windows, replace them. If unused rooms are left with lights on, install sensor-based lighting control so lights switch off when they are not needed. Data can provide you with important indicators for where you can make changes in your business.