Boris reinforces the business case for going green
Implicit in this target are carrots and sticks for business. Climate finance funds to support the transition to greener buildings and aggressive targets to eliminate fossil fuel consumption will make renewable energy not just a worthy choice for business, but also a compelling one. That is an attractive carrot. However, the new national target will require all sectors of the economy, with the exception of aviation and shipping, to make sweeping reforms to achieve greenhouse gas emissions cuts without the use of carbon offsets. Business reforms across the UK domestic economy are therefore unavoidable and sticks must be inherent in the Government’s process. That said, even before regulation, carbon taxes or other penalties are introduced, public opinion and investor sentiment are likely to push businesses into action on climate grounds.
Implications for the hospitality sector are clear: cut fossil fuel consumption and invest in greener buildings and operations. While the starting point for the accommodation sector is behind the rest of the UK economy, the prize of transitioning could be greater.
According to research undertaken by Ignite Economics and published by the EEA in October this year, the accommodation sector is one of only three sectors in the UK economy to have seen its energy intensity (the amount of energy required per unit of economic output) increase since 1990, at a time when the overall UK economy reduced energy intensity by 53%. Benchmarked from the turn of the century to 2018, the UK accommodation sector increased its energy usage by 47%, more than any other industrial sector, while the overall economy saw energy usage decline by almost 20% over the same period. Numbers like that will inevitably draw fire from environmentalists; and the counterbalancing points, that the sector only represents ~2% of total energy usage and growth of the sector was even greater, will probably be downplayed.
The good news is that substantial savings in both energy and money are achievable. Ignite Economics also estimated that the industry could save 15-20% of its energy usage, which is up to £270m/yr, or up to 660,000 tonnes/yr of CO₂.
Ufi Ibrahim, CEO, of the Energy & Environment Alliance, said: “Today’s announcement reveals that the UK government has engaged thoughtfully and seriously with the climate change agenda. The new target is both ambitious and achievable. Thanks to a substantial commitment to invest in the generation and distribution of renewable energy throughout the UK, Boris is not so much forcing the economy to go green as reinforcing the business case to go green. If hospitality businesses want to know how best to respond, we are here to help.”
About the Energy and Environment Alliance
The Alliance is a not-for-profit organisation working to transition hospitality businesses to a zero-carbon economy. The Alliance assists its members in three practical ways, first by bringing the industry together with scientific experts, regulators and specialist services, to combine resources, share knowledge and implement new technologies; second, by enabling member companies to acquire their energy 100% sustainably; and third by helping members achieve world-class sustainable operating standards in a highly cost-effective manner.
For most members who own or manage hotels with more than thirty bedrooms, the cost of membership will be substantially outweighed by savings on energy bills and by an increase in property value, by achieving high sustainability standards. Members will also be able to demonstrate to customers, investors and others, that they are doing everything that can be expected of them, from an environmentally responsible management perspective.
The Alliance offers members access to net-zero carbon energy by virtue of a relationship with Businesswise Solutions, a specialist energy trader, which procures renewable energy on the wholesale markets, at a scale and on commercial terms most hotel chains could not match and makes it available to members via its Renewable Energy Basket. Through its relationship with BREEAM, the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for master-planning projects, buildings and operations, the Alliance offers members robust pathways to net-zero carbon and strategic management tools to guide operational and investment decisions.