We need to move beyond guilt or blame and get on with the practical tasks at hand. Sir David Attenborough
From 31 October to 12 November 2021, the UK will host the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. As the world begins to move out of the Coronavirus crisis that has dominated individual countries’ resources for the last 18 months, leaders in both government and business are focusing their full attention back on dealing with climate change.
SMEs will be at the forefront of climate change innovation and technology over the coming decades. To ensure businesses can access the funds they need to develop, test, and launch their products, the government has made several funding options available.
Furthermore, all businesses are encouraged on a national and global level to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050. In this article, we will examine the hubs and grants offered to SMEs to help them grow their business whilst protecting the earth for future generations.
ICC SME climate change hub
The ICC SME climate change hub aims to support small- and medium-sized businesses to curb carbon emissions, build business resilience and gain a competitive advantage. It also encourages SMEs to commit to halving greenhouse gas emissions before 2030 and to reaching net-zero emissions before 2050. SMEs making the commitment ‘ which will be internationally acknowledged by the United Nations Race to Zero campaign ‘ can take advantage of tools and resources to help them reduce emissions and build business resilience. The platform will combine these bespoke resources with opportunities for SMEs to access direct commercial incentives.
The UK government has established its own UK Business Climate Hub urging businesses to commit to halving their carbon emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero over the following 20 years. The hub provides a wealth of tools, including a playbook on how to integrate climate change into your business strategy and reducing your company’s and value chain emissions.
Climate change grants and competitions
For SMEs at the forefront of developing tools to tackle the dangerous rates of carbon emission, several grants and competitions providing funds are available, including:
- Many local authorities are operating grant schemes to help SMEs save on energy and promote growth and innovation using low-carbon methods. For example, the Shropshire Council’s Low Carbon Opportunities Program encourages SMEs in the low-carbon emissions sector to apply for grants of up to 40% of the costs of eligible capital or revenue projects. The maximum grant is £50,000.
- The low carbon across the South East (LoCASE) is a scheme designed to help regional businesses become more competitive and profitable while protecting the environment and encouraging low carbon solutions. LoCASE provides grants for businesses of up to £10,000 as well as training workshops and fully funded events. SMEs who provide green or low carbon goods and services are eligible for further funding.
- In March 2021, the UK government announced it had launched three new innovation challenges: energy storage technology, floating offshore wind, and biomass production. A fund of £92 million has been set aside to drive forward the next generation of technologies that will help the UK transition to clean, green energy and tackle climate change. All three competitions are now open for expressions of interest.
- The race to decarbonise the aviation industry is on. The Future Flight Challenge phase 3 strand 2 allows UK registered businesses to apply for a share of up to £65 million to develop and demonstrate integrated aviation systems and new vehicle technologies. Applications close on 3rd November 2021.
The above is merely a tiny sample of the hubs, grants, and competitions available to SMEs who are committed to reducing their carbon emissions and/or are innovators in the climate change space. For organisations operating in this sector, there has truly never been a greater time or need for the talent and solutions they supply.
SMEs around the UK are committing to do their bit to cut carbon emissions and protect the planet. No matter how small your business or what industry you’re in, your commitment could make a real difference.