Working in partnership to expand the scope of net zero action
Mark Fox, Chief Executive, The Business Services Association
Everyone will need to contribute in full if the UK is to recover quickly, sustainably and equitably. That means the public sector, the private sector and VCSE organisations large and small, together in harness, working towards the same common goals.
Not least amongst those shared goals is Net Zero. Work to arrest climate change and its effects cannot be delivered in isolation. All organisations will continue to require access to information, expertise and guidance from others on how best to decarbonize their operations.
The business services sector has an important role to play both in reducing its own environmental impact, and also in delivering energy projects and services to clients across the private and public sector – helping them to do the same.
The importance of partnership
Partnership working between sectors, and also between different sizes of organisations, is key. At the BSA, our recently published Statement of best practice on partnership working between larger businesses or VCSE organisations and SMEs outlines examples of what has been achieved through equitable supply chain relationships, and what more can be done.
This is a win-win. Larger organisations benefit from a healthy and diverse supply chain and may be able to draw on distinct areas of knowledge or expertise, including on sustainability. Meanwhile, SMEs can often benefit from the experience, capacity and reach of larger organisations in setting out Net Zero plans, targets and reporting.
Understandably, up to now businesses have tended to focus on reducing emissions under their direct ownership or operational control – Scope 1 emissions. However, this is not enough to achieve sufficient collective progress towards Net Zero. Some 80 per cent of an organisation’s environmental impact can lie in its value chain – Scope 3. Further action is therefore required by organisations large and small, working together to reduce the emissions they generate, both directly and indirectly through their value chains.
The central role of data
Access to accurate data, and use of the most up-to-date digital tools, both play a central role. Without a good understanding of the underlying source of emissions, it is impossible for organisations to develop a strategy to reduce them. The more diverse, complex and global a supply chain is, the more challenging it can be to access the data required to understand and monitor it. Furthermore, many of those involved have not yet been able to develop a clear view of their own carbon footprint.
Technologies such as data analytics, the Internet of Things and Blockchain are increasingly helping organisations monitor and tackle the Scope 3 impacts across wider – and often complex – value chains. As these technologies become more widely adopted, this process will become ever easier. Broadening access to these technologies must therefore be a priority.
Creating effective partnerships is an important way of doing so. Working together is the only way we can deliver Net Zero for the benefit of our organisations and of society as a whole.
THE BUSINESS SERVICES ASSOCIATION – BSA
The BSA represents large and small business, VCSE providers of services and infrastructure projects across the private and public services. Members deliver ICT, BPO, facilities management, construction and infrastructure services, managed public services and some professional services. Some BSA members are micro, small or medium-sized enterprises; others work closely with thousands of SMEs as supply chain partners or in other ways.