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17 November 2023
SME Climate Taskforce

Why Your Steps to Net Zero Need to Start With a Footprint


Gemma Casey, 

Ecosystem Manager, 



Do you know the carbon footprint of your business?

If the answer is no, you’re not alone. With so many financial and time pressures facing business owners and leaders, it’s little wonder that sustainability is often overlooked in favour of more immediate concerns.

Although it might not seem pressing, there is a lot at stake. More than half of the UK’s carbon reduction ambition could be delivered by UK businesses. And there are also many sound business reasons for getting familiar with your carbon footprint.

NatWest’s A Springboard to Sustainable Recovery Report showed that up to three quarters of business cases for SME decarbonisation will be positive by 2030. This is often due to savings in energy costs and increased efficiency – so cutting your carbon could actually cut your costs.

To realise that potential, you need to know where you’re starting from. Whilst it may sound complicated to benchmark your business’ carbon footprint, there are tools and resources which can help you take your first and subsequent steps.

NatWest Carbon Planner is a free-to-use digital platform which has already helped thousands of organisations take action to reduce their emissions, as well as identify potential cost savings. Any UK organisation can use the tool – and you don’t have to be a NatWest customer to sign up. The aim is to empower businesses to measure, manage and reduce their climate impact, alongside identifying operational efficiencies.

Once you’ve signed up, you’ll answer a set of data-led questions about your day-to-day business activities.

The types of questions asked include:

  • Business travel – the total distance travelled by staff by car and/or aeroplane over 12 months.
  • Company vehicles – types of vehicles and how many you have; fuel costs over a 12-month period; how much fuel different vehicles consume.
  • Employee commuting – How many employees commute to work, the average commuting distance per day and the mode of travel.
  • Fuel and electricity – Fuel and energy ­types you use, what it’s used for, how much you use and in what type of building.
  • Materials produced and purchased.
  • Types of waste and disposal methods.
  • Water usage.

From this information the planner will estimate your company’s carbon footprint, and show you where your emissions are highest.

You can then set targets and start building a plan using tailored actions that could help you reduce emissions. Through Carbon Planner you can also explore products and resources which could support you with reducing your carbon emissions, cutting costs and achieving your targets. You can also share the insights gained with your team to help get colleagues on board with your decarbonisation journey.

Businesses who have already used NatWest Carbon Planner to measure their carbon footprint told us that it:

Provided a much-needed starting point for thinking about cutting emissions.

United whole workforces to work towards a shared climate goal.

Encouraged organisations to review their ways of working and highlighted day-to-day activities that contribute most to their carbon footprint.

Suggested surprising and new actions that organisations hadn’t considered before.

Presented quick wins to help organisations lower their emissions as well as potential long-term cost reductions.

If all journeys start with a single step, this one needs to start with a footprint.

Sign up to the NatWest Carbon Planner

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