What does the energy crisis mean for green and sustainability targets?

27 March 2023

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What does the energy crisis mean for green and sustainability targets?

Before the energy crisis hit, many businesses had made transitioning to net zero a major part of their environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy. Since then, however, soaring prices have slowed the progress of reaching these key sustainability targets, causing businesses to rethink and recalibrate their approaches.

Does all this mean that sustainability is now on the back burner? Well, yes and no. True, priorities will have shifted somewhat, but green goals are still well worth pursuing, even amidst the ongoing energy crisis.

We’ll take a look at these reasons in more detail below, along with actionable strategies that businesses can use to re-focus their efforts.

Why businesses should still be proactive about the green transition

Reducing costs may be an immediate concern for most businesses right now, but with experts predicting that the UK’s energy crisis could stretch into 2024, it’s unwise and potentially harmful to let sustainability goals go unaddressed until then.

Below, we explore a few key reasons why that is.

High fossil fuel prices could speed up the transition

The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has seen unprecedented spikes in fossil fuel prices, which has consequently put the spotlight on low-carbon alternatives once more. Renewable energy is far cheaper than fossil fuels overall, and the prices are only set to fall further.

The desire is there too. The European Union is looking to triple its renewable capacity by 2030, and solar energy, the fastest-growing technology, is showing increasing uptake by businesses too.

In short, the energy crisis could well have triggered a chain of events that may lead to a greater uptake in renewables technology in the long term.

Reliance on renewable energy means cheaper bills

It’s been reported that almost two-thirds of wind and solar projects built globally in 2020 will be able to generate cheaper electricity than even the most efficient new coal-powered plants. As the use of renewable energy comes to the fore, this could mean lower energy bills in the future.

Greater access to emerging green incentives

Businesses that are committed to more sustainable practices open themselves up to a range of green incentives that can be used to take further steps towards their net-zero goals. And there are plenty of different options and opportunities available too, not least from the UK government, which has allocated around £5 billion worth of funding to help businesses reach the net-zero emissions goal by 2050.

Awarded to businesses that are actively investing in green initiatives, the list is updated whenever new funding becomes available. It’s always worth checking the green funding webpage to see the latest openings.

How businesses can reprioritise their sustainability practices

 If your green efforts have fallen by the wayside in the past few months, then you can get them back on track with the following actionable tips…

Look into your supply chain

Setting out and adhering to your own values is an admirable and attractive way of improving public perception. However, that same public could well be interested in where your products are being sourced from too.

For instance, if you work with suppliers, how do their methods and practices compare to your own? Are they in line with what you do regarding the environment, or do you find that you share little in common from an ESG standing?

If so, it might be time to look for other suppliers who share the same view as you do. You’ll be able to boost your brand’s reputation and broaden your target market, cut operating and shipping costs by working with local suppliers, and use your new-found reputation as a way to stand out from your competition.

Be proactive about energy saving and reduction

Right now, reducing your business’ total energy consumption is a win-win, helping you save money and make progress towards achieving your sustainability goals. And there are lots of ways you can do it, as featured below:

Invest in energy-saving technology

The upfront cost of energy-saving tech can put some businesses off, causing them to stick to what they’re used to – an approach that could be costing them dearly. Beyond the initial price point, the latest smart lights, thermostats and HVAC innovations can have a powerful effect on a business’ energy bill, cutting them by 18-25% according to GOV.UK – and all for an average payback of less than 1.5 years.

Of course, reduced energy bills aren’t the only uptick of embracing energy-saving technology; it’s something to shout about as part of your ESG strategy and could help to bolster your reputation as a responsible and sustainable brand.

Use eco-friendly packaging

Online shopping is certainly a convenience, but the packaging that items are delivered in across the country isn’t the most environmentally friendly. Cardboard, plastic, and paper – the effects of such materials soon add up.

And while eco-friendly packaging is more expensive, consumers are surprisingly receptive to its use over more harmful alternatives. So instead of what you’d usually package your products in, aim to use biodegradable materials that break down over time. Recyclable and compostable materials work best, generating no waste or plastic pollution.

With that said, it’s important not to use a mix of materials. Combining two different types of packaging can mean it becomes unrecyclable – the opposite of what you want to achieve.

The energy crisis may have proven a huge distraction, but it shouldn’t stand in the way of your long-term sustainability goals. After all, by reducing consumption and embracing the next generation of energy-saving tech, you could save money while helping the planet. For more information on the energy crisis as well as industry news and analysis, visit our energy crisis support hub.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third-party content providers alone and do not represent those of SEFE Energy. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. SEFE Energy accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

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