Greater Manchester has set an ambitious, science-based target to be net zero by 2038. With business activity accounting for roughly a third of our carbon emissions, we will only get there by bringing businesses along with us.
If you find the prospect of starting the journey to net zero daunting, know that you’re not alone. When surveyed, business leaders say they sometimes find the terminology confusing and the landscape difficult to navigate, while many are simply too focused on the day-to-day running of their company to explore how they could cut emissions.
That’s why we launched Bee Net Zero at the Greater Manchester Green Summit in 2021. Our mission is clear – we want to make Greater Manchester the easiest place in the UK to become a net zero business.
To get there we need to work together. The Bee Net Zero partnership unites a range of organisations and support programmes from across Greater Manchester who are committed to making the transition as straightforward and cost-efficient as possible for businesses.
It includes business organisations like the Greater Manchester Business Board (LEP), the Chamber of Commerce, Business in the Community and pro-manchester, as well as the Business Growth Hub, Transport for Greater Manchester, Electricity North West and the Manchester Climate Change Agency. Companies including Siemens and Mott MacDonald are also involved.
Through the partnership we have a network that stretches across Greater Manchester, covering all business sizes and sectors. We want businesses to start thinking about their net zero journey, but we’re also attuned to the challenges. More than three quarters of business leaders nationwide say rising energy costs are the biggest threat they face.
For SMEs in Greater Manchester, the Business Growth Hub’s resource efficiency programme is there to offer you specialist advice. But there are also a range of simple no-cost and low-cost things you can do immediately – like using heating, lighting and machinery more efficiently, or insulating your premises – that could help you cut bills and your carbon emissions.
Green Economy’s online Marketplace enables businesses to find local, trusted partners for their transition to net zero. In its first year, it has built a network of over 500 local green technologies and services suppliers, providing introductions to Greater Manchester-based businesses on their journey to net zero. With many firms looking to invest in green technology but not knowing where to start, Green Economy’s Marketplace helps to simplify the process and ensure that the investment can be made locally.
TfGM has launched a designated business portal which aims to help both employers and employees to rethink the commute. With easy-to-use journey planners, toolkits, guidance around active travel and explaining flexible ticket and fare options the business portal aims to encourage sustainable methods of transport. By simplifying the use of public transport and active travel across the region, TfGM hopes to see less personal cars used for the commute.
Getting to net zero is undoubtedly the biggest challenge we face – as individuals, as a city-region, and as a planet. But it also represents an enormous opportunity. The transition will leverage an unprecedented £100 billion of private investment, and support 480,000 UK jobs by 2030.
Companies with strong green credentials are in a much better position to win the war on talent. Four out of five students consider a company’s social and environmental commitment to be a key factor in deciding where to apply. A commitment to sustainability can also help businesses demonstrate a commitment to social value – a key part of winning contracts in the public sector.
It was an industrious and enterprising Greater Manchester that kick-started the Industrial Revolution which in large part led us into the climate emergency we face today. Now businesses across our city region can again have a truly global impact, by helping us become a leading net zero city, where every business is a green business and every job, is a green job.
Green Lead, Greater Manchester Business Board (LEP)
Founder and CEO, Creative Concern
Visit the Bee Net Zero website to learn more.