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Helping your business journey to Net Zero

Helping your business journey to Net Zero

25 March 2021

What does it all mean...

Net Zero, green economy, carbon neutral, sustainability - we are all bombarded by these terms every day on the TV news, the internet and the radio but what do they mean… writes Melanie Thompson-Glen.

Last Friday saw NICRE take part in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) event aimed at supporting SMEs based in the Northern Powerhouse along their journey to Net Zero. We were proud to showcase Net Zero in the rural economy with the help of two eco-friendly businesses from rural Northumberland – Coffee and Kin and First and Last Brewery – and our business partner Azets.

Businesses are faced with a barrage of headlines calling for them to take action in this climate emergency and many are like rabbits in the headlights….finding it easier to just sit and wait because it all seems like too big a thing for one small business to tackle.  Like many challenges in business and life, the best way to tackle the journey to being Net Zero is one step at a time and that’s where NICRE can help.

Every business can do at least one thing

We strongly believe that every business can do at least one thing, be that switching to a green energy supplier, recycling their waste properly, using compostable coffee pods in their office coffee machine or simply switching off their computers and monitors at night.  Making a difference to the planet does not need to be costly or mean making radical changes to your business.

It is understandable to think that you just have a small business so can’t do much, bigger multinational firms should be making the changes, but in truth we all need to be looking at our consumption and how we utilise resources.  Sometimes it is easier as a small business to make a change, and that change can have a proportionally bigger impact than in large businesses.

Research by one of NICRE’s founding partners, the Enterprise Research Centre, carried out with SMEs last autumn, showed that 45% of rural firms ALWAYS considered the environmental implication of business decisions compared to only 37% of urban. 86% of rural firms said that they thought environmental impact should be part of the bottom line, compared with 79% of urban firms.

Many businesses are on the journey to Net Zero, they just aren’t aware of it.  They run their business as sustainably as they can without giving a name to all the things they do and there are many rural businesses that are shining examples of this and we’d love to hear what you’re doing in your business to make a difference

It is easy to consider this climate emergency is someone else’s problem, but the fact is we all need to take responsibility.  We don’t need 1% of businesses to be completely carbon neutral, we need every business to do something, just one thing to start their journey.

What will your just one thing be?

Share your rural Net Zero journey with us at or @NICRErural on Twitter.


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