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UK Net Zero Business Census: Major new survey aims to track UK corporates’ climate journey


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A major new survey has been launched today to take the temperature of the UK’s burgeoning net zero economy and establish “a definitive benchmark” for the private sector’s decarbonisation pathway, with the backing of a raft of major corporates and trade bodies.

The inaugural UK Net Zero Business Census runs from today until the end of June and comprises 10 multiple choice questions about an organisation’s awareness and preparedness for the net zero transition. Businesses of all sizes and industries are being encouraged to take part.

Led by the UK Business Climate Hub in partnership with the Planet Mark and a coalition of leading business associations, media outlets, and corporates, the aim is to run the Census annually in order to gain valuable data on the corporate net zero transition over time.

The survey, which is expected to take just seven minutes to complete on average, quizzes firms on their awareness of net zero, their progress in setting and tracking progress against emissions-reduction targets, and the business benefits they expect to gain from decarbonising.

It also seeks to uncover potential barriers and challenges for firms in reaching net zero, while providing a breakdown of the resulting data by region, sector, and business-size in order to help policymakers, investors, and business leaders identify areas where more action is needed if economy-wide net zero goals are to be met.

Organisations supporting the Census include the Institute of Directors, the CBI, Make UK, British Chambers of Commerce, the BSI, and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), as well as major firms such as BT Group, NatWest, HSBC, and Octopus Energy.

Edward Lockhart, convenor of the Broadway Initiative – which manages the government and industry-convened UK Business Climate Hub – said he hoped the Census would help secure valuable data and insight to help inspire business action in support of the net zero transition.

“The Net Zero Census will provide an annual benchmark for the business community on our journey to a low carbon economy,” he said. “It 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.”

Alongside the voluntary survey, the organisers also plan to commission a polling company to undertake research with a view to comparing and assessing the results with the Census.

“It will give us the tools to understand the impact of the Business Climate Hub and how we should target resources to enable smaller businesses to decarbonise and provide the low carbon solutions of the future,” Lockhart said.

Andrew Griffiths, director of policy and partnerships at Planet Mark, said there was a lack of consistent and reliable data on private sector views regarding the net zero transition. By seeking to gain responses from as many UK firms as possible, with the broad support of myriad trade organisations, he said the research could help provide crucial policy insight ahead of the upcoming general election and COP29 UN Climate Summit.

“Because the goal is volume, we have gone for simplicity: 10 multiple choice questions on net zero,” he explained. “This is the most ambitious survey ever undertaken on the state of UK business’ progress to achieving net zero. Through working with so many like-minded partners, we will be able to reach thousands of businesses across the country to understand the commitments and actions they are taking to drive positive change for society, business and nature. We hope the results from the Census can inform the policy and investment decisions needed to secure business success as we transition to net zero by 2050.”

The launch comes a day after Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Claire Coutinho and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt both addressed the Innovation Zero conference in London, where they underscored their support for the net zero transition but warned against a “central planning” approach to decarbonisation which they argued could stifle innovation.

You can now sign up to attend the fifth annual Net Zero Festival, which will be hosted by BusinessGreen on October 22-23 at the Business Design Centre in London.

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