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With COP26 in Glasgow just around the corner, we brought together a panel of Scottish industry and business leaders to discuss how Scotland can make the most of the transition to a green economy.

While climate change threatens economic activity around the world, Scotland has been identified as the region that is best placed to lead the green revolution as the UK seeks to recover from the pandemic.

That is laid clear in ourUK Green Growth Index (PDF, 1,442kb), developed by Oxford Economics to analyse the UK’s readiness to drive a sustainable future, which found Scotland has the highest concentration of green jobs of any UK region at 21,000 - 11% of the total.

Scott Barton, Managing Director, Corporate & Institutional Coverage, Bank of Scotland Commercial Banking, opened the event.

He said: “As the country emerges from the worst economic crisis in recent times, there may never be a more important time for Scottish businesses to come together on climate change.

“As leaders of those businesses, it’s up to us to deliver the blueprint for a safe and sustainable future.

“A collective effort is needed on carbon reduction to deliver meaningful impact.

“What gives me real confidence is that Scotland has an enduring worldwide reputation for creativity and innovation, and this will be key in the transition to a less carbon intensive society.”

Highlighting the urgency of the discussion, one panellist was able to describe how climate change was already directly impacting their industry.

Fiona MacInnes, Managing Director of Orkney Fishermen’s Society and Director of Orkney Food & Drink, said: “There are certainly changes with sea temperatures and weather patterns that are affecting supply these past few years.

“It has affected the crab ecosystem, there’s been less crab around and companies like ourselves have perhaps struggled because we’re reliant on a wild species.”

 

A route map to sustainability

And Fiona highlighted the challenges around measuring a firm’s environmental impact, setting targets and measuring progress, flagging the strategic support available from Zero Waste Scotland.

She said: “You need to know where you are and where you want to be and how you're going to get there.”

That was a view backed by Andrew Howard, Managing Director of Moray Estates, who said: “We've started changing our activities significantly, but like a lot of SMEs we haven't got a clear strategy for how we're going to transition to net zero.”

“We're very conscious that we need to start to measure what our carbon footprint actually is, because we're producing carbon in certain parts of the business, but we're capturing and storing it in others.

“I think it would be fair to say that we've been awaiting a standardised accepted methodology.”

 

What is stopping your business from becoming more sustainable?  
Lack of skills/knowledge 25%
Prohibitive costs/lack of financing 27%
Other more pressing priorities 24%
Lack of Government support 24%

Rory Christie, Director of Dourie Farming, added: “Of all the different methods available to measure your carbon footprint, none of them will give you the same answer. So, I'm very much calling for standardised carbon footprinting.”

And Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport, said: “The technology solutions for carbon free aviation are coming, but they're going to be a bit slower than they are for surface transport, for example, where we already have electric cars.

“In the meantime, we want to help everyone else accelerate what they can do.

“We should all be working together to find out the fastest, most effective and most cost-effective ways to reduce carbon overall.”

Glenn Bemment, Head of ESG, SME & Mid Corporate, Bank of Scotland Commercial Banking, highlighted some of the support available.

He said: “On our website, we've developed a Clean Growth Guide , which takes any business of any size through a set of considerations before completing a Clean Growth Sustainability Audit  so they can give themselves a self-assessment of where they are today. In addition, ourGreen Buildings Tool  is a fantastic way of identifying, evaluating and understanding the estimated outcomes of any investments people make in their properties.

 

Collaboration

A key theme from the event was the need for more collaboration, particularly between larger corporations and smaller suppliers.

Rory said: “If we can work together in partnership with the rest of industry and other industries, then I think we have a much greater chance of succeeding.

“There's no platform for me to reach out to and say, ‘I need help, can we brainstorm some ideas?’ I’m sure if we can start to work together in that way, then we can definitely find solutions.” 

That’s something that would especially benefit smaller organisations, who might not have the in-house expertise needed to effectively transition to net zero. 

And it puts an obligation on larger firms to support their smaller suppliers.

Glenn said: “Many smaller businesses have so many things on their agenda right now, from navigating Brexit to dealing with the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, and then we're asking them to get to net zero by 2050 and many just don't have the bandwidth to recruit specialists ESG managers or directors into their business.”

Martyn Link, Chief Strategy Officer at Wood Group, said: “Something that we've been working on with Lloyds Banking Group and other companies in Scotland is trying to develop a private sector climate forum, working together to produce a net zero SME supply chain programme.

“It's still in development but hopefully in the next few weeks or months we'll be able to build something really collaborative across all Scotland in this space for SMEs.”

 

What more could your banking provider do to help your business become more sustainable?  
Support on planning and measuring progress 20%
Digital measuring tools 21%
Access to discounted finance 45%
Access to skills and resources 14%

Glenn said: “Lloyds Banking Group has provided £5 billion of sustainability funding for businesses of all sizes in all sectors.

“The purpose of that funding is to really support clients on their journey to becoming more energy efficient, developing and investing in new renewable energy sources, reducing the carbon from their vehicle fleets, improving things like water efficiency, improving recycling and reducing waste.

“It's also discounted against our normal lending rates to really encourage everyone to work together and make that journey towards Net Zero.”

Contact us

If any company in Scotland would like to get in touch to discuss accessing discounting finance for sustainability purposes, click the green button to email us for one of the team to follow-up.

Get in touch Green Buildings Tool

Clean Growth Sustainability Audit

Take a look at our guide to see which changes might be the right fit for your company and identify opportunities for making your business more sustainable with our audit.

Energy-efficiency tool

A digital tool that can help you identify energy-efficient investments in your buildings.

Clean growth financing

Discounted lending for green purposes and investing in a lower carbon future.