What will it take to go net zero?

17th June, 2022

A blog by Good Business Charter’s CEO, Jenny Herrera.

When I came on board to lead the Good Business Charter, there is no doubt I had a lot more experience in the S and G of ESG than the E! As a chartered accountant I am hopefully relatively au fait with what good governance looks like, and having run a charity helping people in UK poverty for over a decade (and before that living and working in a developing country) I am acutely aware of the impact of low pay and insecure work, key elements of the S.

Whilst passionate about our planet and doing my own little bit to be sustainable (including strongly and successfully resisting being a 2-car family even though my husband needs the car to commute), the actual terminology around the technical stuff like Scope 3 emissions was something of a mystery. How could we effectively signpost our accredited organisations, especially the smaller ones, to advice on what getting to net zero really means for them?

The Good Business Charter prides itself on focusing on concrete actions and commitments. Therefore, when I was introduced to the team at Net Zero Now, I really liked the fact their focus lay with SMEs and was about creating practical protocols for how to reach net zero, that was detailed enough to meet the requirements of a complex calculation, but simple enough to be readily understood by small businesses without the budget to bring in a sustainability consultant.

As a chartered accountant it was a perfect fit for me to form part of the pilot group to look at the protocol for the accountancy sector and we were delighted to provide 3 of the 4 pilot accountancy firms to test out the protocol. It was also an excellent way for me to learn more about what net zero entails. To work alongside such leaders of the sector as ICAEW, AAT and Sage, gave Net Zero Now real credibility in what is something of a crowded market for support around environmental impact.

It was not just me who learned a lot through the process. This is what our pilot firms had to say:

Lee Davy-Martin, Partner of Wilson Wight:

“Wilson Wright takes great pride in always trying to do the right thing, which includes being a good corporate citizen as custodian of our environment for generations to come. The principle of Net Zero has been familiar to us since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015 which a client of ours made a significant contribution to.

Since then, as a firm we have been cognisant of our carbon footprint but critically we lacked the ability to measure it reliably. When we heard of the work that Net Zero Now were doing through our membership of the Good Business Charter, we jumped at the chance to shape the development of a protocol that would have the ability to benchmark the footprint of professional services firms like our own.

Having now completed our own benchmarking, we will fully offset our 2022 carbon footprint as well as target a 20% year on year reduction.”

Dave Gibson, Co-Founder and CEO of Blu Sky:

“Blu Sky consider themselves to be a modern accountancy practice in all senses of the word, so our organisation and employees set the bar high for ethical and social initiatives. We’d already demonstrated that by joining GBC in the first few days of formation, and measuring – and reducing – our carbon footprint was high on our to do list. NZN worked closely with us to formulate and explain how we might measure where we have flexible and remote working policies. They were incredibly helpful, and the initiative has proven popular with the team and with clients.”

Donald Inglis, Director of Inglis Chartered Accountants:

“In August 2021 the effects of covid was putting massive pressure on many businesses – and of course we were not immune. I was reading about the GBC on facebook and thought that as we complied with the 10 components anyway – then it was a perfect way for us to show outwardly our business ethos and values. Of course as is often the case one thing leads to another and through the Good Business Chartered we were introduced to Net Zero Now. Climate change is happening and carbon reduction is one method of trying to slow the pace of climate change. We completed the survey and found that although we had a relatively low carbon footprint anyway – we could do better. One of the ways we have improved is to purchase refurbished IT equipment (especially monitors). Reducing waste and saving £££ is a brilliant win win scenario.

I would strongly recommend any business to join the NZN initiative and see where the wins are in their own situation.”

Find out more about the Net Zero Now accountancy initiative here: https://netzeronow.org/accountants

Net Zero Now is working to develop initiatives for new sectors. Please note there is a monthly charge for using the actual platform.