Small businesses crucial in achieving a carbon-neutral future

retailers, zero emissions, net-zero
Carbon footprint concept – 3d rendering

Recent research from Powershop Australia indicates the crucial role Australia’s 2.4 million small businesses can play in reducing Australia’s total carbon emissions if they commit to reducing their carbon footprint year on year.

The Powershop report, prepared with data partner Geografia, found that Australian SMEs emit about 146.5 million tonnes of the nation’s carbon emissions annually and that, by making some small changes, they can help take the equivalent of 15 million cars off the road.

The report noted that construction is the largest emitter of the four (76 per cent), followed by retail (11.9 per cent), professional services (6.7 per cent) and accommodation and hospitality (5.7 per cent), making up a total of 6.6 million tonnes emitted.

The report also noted that if the four target SME sectors signed up to an electricity plan that’s 100 per cent carbon offset, it would be the equivalent of taking 770,834 cars off the road. And if they offset 100 per cent of their total emissions from materials, electricity, other utilities, labour and transport, it would be the equivalent of 3.98 million cars off the road each year.

This research coincides with the global climate change conference COP26 that is currently taking place in Glasgow. Already, over half of Australia’s 80 top-emitting ASX200 companies have announced their respective net-zero or carbon-neutral goals, with some committing to purchasing 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2025.

“The data shows an average Australian pub, tavern or bar emits around 11.6 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum, with over a third of this coming from their electricity usage,” Powershop CEO Jason Stein said. “If a pub switched their energy provider to a retailer that carbon offset their energy usage, they could reduce their carbon footprint by around 34 per cent immediately. If every pub, tavern or bar made this small change it would be equivalent to taking over 6800 cars off the road each year.

“We know small businesses are just as passionate about ways they can reduce their impact on the planet but they tell us they don’t have the resources to dive into the details, so we have done it for them,” Stein added. “We believe Australia can reach net zero emissions by 2050 and we are passionate about helping reach that goal even faster.

“To get there we not only need more investment in renewable energy and new technologies, we also need every Australian to understand the power they have to make decisions that will drastically change Australia’s total carbon emissions,” Stein said. “We hope this data and the tools we provide small businesses will help them see how much power they have to make an outsized impact on the environment.”

To help SMEs get a deeper understanding of the business benefits of running a more sustainable business, Powershop has partnered with some of Australia’s prominent small-business owners to launch the Business Carbon Insight Pledge campaign.

Small businesses that download the toolkit and pledge their carbon reduction plans will receive data, social media assets, as well as office and in-store stickers that let their customers know they have made the pledge with messages such as “We’re not in the pollution business” and “Calories not carbon”.