In November 2021, the Scottish Net Zero Community brought together 70 businesses to mobilise SME action towards Net Zero in support of COP26. Hosted at the Iconic Falkirk Wheel, the event was run in partnership with Forth Valley for Net Zero and additional supporting partners Prickly Thistle, Future Net Zero, CBN Expert, Green Grow Club, Alef Trust and Earthself.
Attendees were able to learn from Richard Millar, COO of Scottish Canals about its transformational journey to restore and regenerate Scotland’s canal systems into one that supports Scotland’s national target of reaching Net Zero by 2045. Also speaking was Martin Baxter, Head of Policy & External Affairs from The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). He provided a context of the importance of COP26 and its implications for Scottish SMEs. Planet Mark’s #ZeroCarbon Bus Tour also made an appearance to help SMEs bust the carbon jargon and understand more about what Net Zero really means.
Forth Valley SME Net Zero Heroes share their stories
The event included a panel discussion “SME Net Zero Heroes on their Journey to Net Zero” with nine inspirational Scottish SMEs already tackling climate change. Some see the journey to net zero as a business opportunity and differentiator. Others spoke of how their businesses have been built around a sustainable model based on their own beliefs.
Four of the panel were from the Forth Valley Area: Naomi Ross, Managing Director, Sioda; Gary Hayes, Chief Executive Officer, Campervan Co; Scott Andrew, Head Genie, BottleGenies and; Neil MacKinnon, Founder & Director, Arm in Arm Accounting.
The rest were from all over Scotland: Eddie Black, Managing Director, Eco-genics Ltd; Andrew Lloyd, Chief Operating Officer, IGS Ltd; Brian O’Reilly, Managing Director; Egg Lighting Ltd; Michael Cusak, Head of Sustainability and Business Transformation, ACS Clothing and; Aimee Doole, Head of Marketing, Booth Welsh.
The panel described the business benefits companies they are achieving by prioritising the values that balance People, Planet, Profit. Rather than a cost or distraction, they reported prioritising those values is attracting customers and partners, helping them to grow their business while contributing to a greener future.
Hearing from the net zero generation
A Youth Panel was chaired by Sumit Bose from Future Net Zero and featured young innovators James Duncan and Arwin Quiachon from Mycelium Designs; Callum MacPherson from University of Edinburgh Marketing Society; Anna Bell from Fuel Change and Stuart Johnston from Net Zero Nation. They explained their own interest in sustainability but also what it means to young people today in terms of training and job opportunities and opportunities to innovate.
The Scottish Net Zero Community
The Scottish Net Zero Community has a mission is to mobilise 384,000 SMEs in Scotland to take action towards Net Zero, create green jobs, and help Scotland’s just transition to a green economy. Launched in January 2021, the Scottish Net Zero Community has over 850 members from a diverse range of organisations all committed to helping Scotland reach its 2045 Net Zero target.
What SMEs can do now to start their net zero journey
Businesses can sign up to the Race to Zero today and enter the Net Zero Accelerator. This will give them a carbon benchmark for their business and advice on:
- how to take carbon out of their business
- qualifying for the range of greener business grants
- measures being made available by the Government to support Net Zero enablement
We’ve also put together a handy guide to the support available to businesses in Scotland.