Green for go - the importance of collaboration

Building on Shoosmiths’ recent insight paper, unlocking net zero strategies for business, James Wood-Robertson charts the routes to decarbonisation, while discussing the role of collaboration and partnerships in achieving net zero.

After the much-anticipated COP26 climate summit, where governments across the world made their net zero commitments in a bid to tackle the challenge of limiting global warming, the prospect of setting targets became even more crucial.

You have heard in the other articles how ESG considerations can impact bank finance and how the construction industry is focusing on embodied carbon, here we talk about how living sector businesses can tackle net zero.

Setting targets is often the easy part. Shoosmiths highlighted, in its recent paper in collaboration with Cornwall Insight, the potential routes to decarbonisation that businesses have at their disposal to meet their targets.

Pressure for businesses to adopt net zero is both bottom-up and top-down

The key drivers for businesses to make net zero commitments are investor pressure and legal and regulatory requirements, particularly for large corporates.

Societal pressure and customer expectations of businesses to do right by the environment and climate act as bottom-up drivers. The net zero journey provides opportunities for businesses to show leadership in their solutions and pathways to tackle climate change.

At its heart, sustainability is an approach that seeks to reconcile economic development with the protection of both society and the environment, alongside the needs of society today and that of future generations. In terms of reconciliation, we are increasingly seeing economic development and the protection of the environment becoming one and the same driver in terms of real estate development.

Successful approaches will be shaped by location, scale, and exposure to different vectors

There is no ‘one-size- fits-all’ strategy for businesses to achieve net zero and there will be different options for different businesses. However, one common thread is that collaboration and partnerships with other companies and organisations as well as stakeholders, investors, customers and suppliers is key to achieving net zero.

It will also require larger companies and industries to support their supply chains and SMEs in their net zero journeys. The challenge in delivering sustainable cities requires collaboration and a joined-up approach, not just between developers and occupiers, but also with other stakeholders and, in particular, local authorities.

Green supply is attractive, but beware of greenwashing

Choosing a green electricity supply can be a straightforward way for a business to decarbonise their energy supply and boost their environmental, social and governance credentials.

However, not all green electricity tariffs and products are as ‘green’ as companies are led to believe.

The governance of green tariffs therefore needs to be reviewed to ensure net zero is embedded in all business energy supplier operations.

Real estate’s role needs to reflect this also and ensure its symbiotic with other stakeholders to enable greater decarbonisation of supply chains and deliver sustainable cities, rather than simply being a means to provide green credentials to an occupier.

Businesses need to be assertive and proactive

Ideas on net zero strategies and best practice need to be shared and businesses need to seize the opportunity to make a positive impact. Achieving net zero is not the finish line, companies must maintain net zero and even go beyond that to become net positive.

Future real estate developments can help provide solutions to climate problems and have the added benefit of being able to start with a green print to address these specific challenges rather than trying to retrofit or shoehorn a part solution.

While the net zero challenge is one we all face, organisations are in different circumstances starting from different positions – hence why there is a vital need for a collaborative approach to reach these shared targets.

Companies have a duty – both legally and morally – to take measures in relation to limiting global warming, and through best practice sharing and cooperation further progress can be made.

Our insight paper, Unlocking net zero strategies for business, sets out in detail the various routes to decarbonisation and strategies that businesses may take.

This article features in Shoosmiths’ new report: Operating in living


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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