Most people would choose the incentive of carrot rather than the avoidance of stick when being asked to change their behaviour.

Yet, in the area of government directives, sticks are often the ‘motivators’ to get businesses to comply.

When it comes to meeting the government’s 2050 net zero emissions target, we’re still not clear on how the carrots will stack up against the sticks. Hopefully the long-anticipated Net Zero Review and Energy Whitepaper will provide some answers.

While we’re waiting, we asked around 100 businesses from a range of sectors for their views on the net zero target – and how prepared they feel – as part of our Your Business Blueprint – The road to Net Zero report.

While three quarters say they think hitting the 2050 target is realistic, a larger number – 83% – believe their business will benefit from the changes required during the net zero transition.

Resilience, reputation and diversification

The main reasons cited include:

• Greater operational long-term resiliency through saving money and reducing carbon emissions.

• A positive impact on reputation.

• An opportunity to diversify business offering into new areas or develop new products that aid sustainability.

For companies struggling in the current economic climate, reducing the cost of an essential overhead such as energy can be a key motivator.

Wider economic opportunities

As well as the potential to save money for individual businesses, net zero could deliver further benefits for the UK economy as a whole.

For example, a recent report from the Renewable Energy Association (REA) estimates that jobs in the renewable and clean technology industry could increase by 85% – from just under 129,000 in 2017/18 to 238,000 by 2030 – if supported by more enabling green policies.

A sizeable number of these could be in the north of England, where many carbon-intensive industries are located.

For example, Net Zero Teeside is aiming to develop the UK’s first decarbonised industrial cluster using carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology.

Need for low-carbon workforce

Across the UK, research commissioned by National Grid estimates that 260,000 new roles will need to be created within the energy sector to enable the UK to meet net zero targets.

Its Building the Net Zero Energy Workforce report, produced with Development Economics, highlights a need for jobs to build and upgrade low-carbon infrastructure and retrofit or decommission high-carbon assets.

To support the creation of these jobs, National Grid says the right policy and financial mechanisms need to be put in place.

The government’s recent commitment to increase offshore wind capacity to 40GW by 2030 is estimated to create around 28,000 jobs alone, according to a report commissioned by WWF.

Potential for £90 billion annual benefits

Its Keeping us Competitive report also estimates that 85,000 jobs will be needed in the green building sector and 11,000 in the electric vehicle (EV) market.

Overall, it concludes that around £90 billion in annual benefits could be created by focussing on a green recovery as the UK embraces the net zero transition.

Most businesses are keen to understand how these benefits stack up against the cost of funding net zero.

To support creating a workable net zero strategy that identifies return on investment (ROI) – as well as the benefits – get in touch or contact your Client Lead if you are an existing customer.

For more on what other businesses think – and are doing – about net zero, read our Your Business Blueprint – The road to Net Zero report.

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