• Sustainability
    • General Sustainability
    • Understanding ESG

The 5 hows of Net Zero

  • Article

Change can seem uncertain – but when it comes to the path to net zero, it doesn’t have to be. Here are five steps that could help turn your net zero goals into achievable actions.

1. How to get started

Not enough businesses are measuring their environmental metrics, which makes realistic goal-setting challenging¹. Get started by gathering business data.

  • To help you accurately measure your direct and indirect carbon emissions, choose a relevant method of standardisation for your business, such as The Greenhouse Gas Protocol.²
  • Use your organisation’s environmental data to find your baseline, and then build an emissions reduction plan for your business. This baseline provides a reference that change can be measured against. Fill in HSBC’s Sustainability Tracker to get more support on the path to net zero.
  • Take advantage of resources and online templates for writing environmental policies.³
  • Assess your business values, making sustainability a part of your overall purpose and establishing a business-wide commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

2. How to reduce your carbon emissions

Once you’ve established your baseline and formulated an approach, the next step is to start taking achievable actions to reduce your carbon emissions. Quick wins could include:

  • Make simple on-site changes, such as opting for energy-efficient heating or switching to LED lightbulbs which use 90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs.⁴
  • Consider switching energy supplier. Changing to a green fuel tariff increases the prevalence of renewable energies and is one of the easiest ways to make your business greener.
  • Evaluate waste – from printing and coffee pods through to product packaging. Use the UK Government’s Energy Technology List to help choose energy efficient equipment and machinery.⁵
  • Discover more simple steps to take the path to net zero with the Climate Action for Associations (CAFA) guide to quick wins to reduce your environmental impact.

3. How to make your supply chain more sustainable

To achieve your net zero goals, take a holistic view of your environmental impact, which includes considering the sustainability credentials of your suppliers.

  • Review the geography of your supply chain. Changing to local suppliers where possible can help save money, build a local reputation, and significantly reduce your carbon emissions.
  • Check suppliers’ environmental policies and ask for evidence to support any sustainability claims. Around 40% of green claims made online are said to be misleading, so research is crucial.⁶
  • Assess your shipping and delivery routes to ensure efficiency. Road transport contributes to around three-quarters of all emissions from the transport sector.⁷ Explore alternatives, such as rail freight.
  • Read the HSBC and CAFA guide to working with sustainable suppliers for further insights into reducing the carbon footprint across your supply chain.

4. How to support your employees

Reaching net zero requires involvement from the whole organisation. Support employees to help enhance your efforts.

  • Encourage efficient working practices, such as turning off lights and electrical equipment when not in use. Lighting can account for as much as 35% of power consumed within offices.⁸
  • Where possible, facilitate the use of video calls as a replacement for in-person travel. For necessary travel, switching to electric vehicles could help you save money and significantly reduce your carbon footprint.⁹
  • Consider cycle to work schemes, or work from home options for employees to minimise commuting time.

5. How to build a sustainability community

Partnerships with other organisations and communication with consumers can prove advantageous to any SME taking steps towards net zero.

  • Consider ways your business can support climate causes, such as by volunteering with local environmental organisations.
  • Build sustainability targets into your marketing campaigns to help increase awareness amongst consumers and other SMEs.
  • Operate transparently to build trust and increase your brand’s reputation. This could prove beneficial to profits and open up investment opportunities in the green finance space.

Today we finance a number of industries that significantly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. We have a strategy to help our customers to reduce their emissions and to reduce our own. For more information visit www.hsbc.com/sustainability

1 https://newsroom.ibm.com/2023-04-17-New-IBM-Study-Reveals-Inadequate-Data-Hinders-Progress-Against-Environmental,-Social-and-Governance-Goals

2 https://ghgprotocol.org/

3 https://www.climateactionforassociations.org/resources

4 https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/light-bulbs/article/how-to-buy-the-best-light-bulb-a5ZLF4v6VDlw

5 https://www.gov.uk/guidance/energy-technology-list

6 https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/qanda_23_1693

7 https://www.eea.europa.eu/en/topics/in-depth/road-transport

8 https://makingmoveslondon.co.uk/blog/20-ways-you-can-save-energy-at-work

9 https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/advice/electric-vehicles/

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