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Businesses urged to take part in major new census on UK’s net zero progress


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Businesses are being urged to take part in a major new census tracking the private sector’s progress towards the UK’s 2050 net zero target.

The national research initiative, backed by the Government, large corporates and business groups, will act as a definitive benchmark to help inform policy and drive change, according to its organisers.

The UK Business Climate Hub and sustainability certifiers Planet Mark said the aim is to gather the data every year to monitor the proportion of businesses taking action.

The inaugural census, launched on Wednesday, asks businesses 10 simple multiple-choice questions on target setting, measuring carbon footprints and net zero priorities.

The organisers are urging as many firms as possible to provide data regardless of what progress they have made.

Edward Lockhart, from the Broadway Initiative which manages the UK Business Climate Hub, said the census will “give Government, business leaders and the financial community a richer dataset than we’ve ever had before to take stock of progress and what more needs to be done”.

Andrew Griffiths, Planet Mark’s director of policy and partnerships, said the census is distinct from other net zero business surveys because of its partners.

The British Chambers of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry, NatWest, BT Group, the Institute of Directors and the National Grid are among dozens of partners collaborating on the project.

“This is the most ambitious survey ever undertaken on the state of UK business’ progress to achieving net zero,” Mr Griffiths said.

He added that the collaboration not only “sends a powerful message” but the data will help to inform consistent and definitive guidance for businesses to take net zero action.

“It’s all mutually reinforcing because the census will reinforce the content and the content will reinforce the census, and hopefully this will be something that can really grow and develop over time,” he said.

Firms of any size across the UK can submit answers until June 30, through an online form or by downloading a word document.

The data will be be analysed over July and August with plans to publish the results on September 10.

The figures will be broken down into regions, sectors and business size, the organisers said.

While a firm’s individual answers will not be published, it can opt to be listed in the report as a contributor, they added.

Mr Griffiths acknowledged concerns that the dataset could be skewed towards companies taking action or that businesses could exaggerate their net zero ambitions.

To tackle this, he said a polling company has been commissioned to ask a representative sample of British businesses the same questions to act as a point of comparison to the voluntary polling sample.

The volume of submissions will also ensure balance, he added: “The more businesses the better the data.”

The Net Zero Census can be accessed at netzerocensus.co.uk

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