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What will it take to meet carbon targets?

By Zoe Osmond, Director of Clean Growth UK


As economies are opened up following the pandemic, the International Energy Agency is predicting a major surge in carbon emissions and energy use. At the same time, both the UK and USA governments recently set out new ambitious carbon cutting targets. On home soil, the UK has pledged to cut emissions by 78% by 2035. Across the pond, Joe Biden’s administration has committed to cutting carbon emissions to 50-52% below their 2005 levels by 2030.

It’s encouraging to see climate change targets being ramped up across the world in the lead up to CoP 26, to be hosted in in Glasgow this November, but what action on the ground will it take to achieve these targets?


A multi-sector effort

The power sector has been by the far the biggest contributor to UK emissions reductions over past ten years. Now, other sectors need to follow suit. To have the biggest impact, we need to focus on sectors that have a combination of high emissions and the greatest potential for low carbon innovation across products, processes, business models and regulations.

Sectors such as:

  • Buildings – retrofit, new build, and the decarbonisation of heat.
  • Transport – heavy vehicles, shipping, aviation and a modal shift to more walking, cycling, and public transport.
  • Heavy industry and manufacturing – energy intensive industries such as manufacturing, steel, concrete production, etc.
  • Agriculture and food production
  • Nature based solutions – improving biodiversity and the opportunities for carbon offsetting.


SMEs can drive the change – with the right support

With SMEs accounting for 99.9% of the UK’s business population, they need to be enabled to accelerate their own transition to net zero as quickly and effectively as possible.

An understanding of how to measure and reduce carbon footprint, and access to support and tools to help develop and commercialise low carbon business approaches, products and services are crucial.

Our university-led business-innovation network Clean Growth UK is set up to do just that, with services to support innovation for product or service development, help accessing UK R&D funding, university-business innovation collaborations such as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, and business growth and commercialisation support. We provide a menu of accessible support to any business on the road to net zero.

We’ve got a rolling programme of free 121 support, workshops and events. Currently open for registration are Clean Growth Innovation for manufacturing and engineering businesses, green business marketing strategy, Business Model Canvas for low carbon businesses and the Future of Cities networking event.

If you’re developing a low carbon product or service or have ambitions to decarbonise your business, join our network for free here to access the events and support and get regular updates on the latest green business funding, events and opportunities across the UK.


Image: Luke White, Unsplash