Sustainability training scheme for SMEs launched by Google and Planet Mark

Google and Planet Mark, the sustainability and net-zero certification group, recently announced a new free training programme to help SMEs reduce their emissions as part of the UK Government’s Together for our Planet Business Climate Leaders campaign, which encourages small businesses to commit to cutting their emissions in half by 2030 and to net zero by 2050.

Small businesses make up 99% of the UK’s business community so they’ll play a crucial role in reaching the Government’s ambitious target to reach net zero by 2050. Yet, understandably, small businesses don’t always have the time, resources or expertise to dedicate to this – especially as they focus on recovery from the pandemic.

A study from the British Chambers of Commerce and O2 found only one in 10 small businesses are measuring their carbon footprint, and a fifth of small businesses don’t fully understand the term “net zero”. Cost, and an ability to understand, measure and report emissions are cited as two of the main barriers to change.

The training announced today will help small businesses overcome these obstacles. The programme is designed for small businesses starting their journey towards sustainability, with an emphasis on how a sustainability strategy can help drive business performance.

It sets out the business case and imperative for cutting emissions, and explains practical, digitally-focused ways to decarbonise – from using paperless billing and Cloud-enabled technology, to renewable energy sourcing and supply chains. It also covers how small businesses can use their sustainability credentials to differentiate.

The training is being delivered through the Google Digital Garage and it has been developed in partnership with Planet Mark, who have worked to support SMEs to become more sustainable over many years.

Companies who complete the training are encouraged to make a commitment to going net zero by signing up to the SME Climate Commitment, which can be found on the UK Business Climate Hub. Businesses who sign up and share their commitments will be recognised by the United Nations Race to Zero campaign and inspire other businesses to take action.

Andrew Griffith MP, Net Zero UK Business Champion, said: “A crucial component of our efforts to ensure we achieve net zero emissions by 2050 will be the actions of our fantastic and innovative small businesses across the country.

“Google’s and Planet Mark’s new training programme – part of our Together for our Planet campaign – will give business owners the information and expertise they need to cut their carbon footprint, and make a considerable difference in our fight against climate change.”

Steve Malkin, Founder and CEO, Planet Mark, said: “This is an exciting partnership that brings together the best of sustainability, innovation and technology to help SMEs on their path to net zero and see the benefits it brings to their businesses.

“Planet Mark has helped hundreds of SMEs embrace sustainability and radically cut carbon, and now working with Google and partners we can help thousands more and move the dial on climate action.”

Google is also announcing its support for Normative, the software platform behind the SME Climate Commitment, to help businesses track and account for their carbon emissions.

Over the next 6 months, as part of the Google.org Fellowship, Google will provide a team of 11 Googlers to work full-time, pro bono, to assist Normative with building the technical infrastructure that underpins the free-to-access platform.

Normative was one of the organisations to receive a €1m grant through the Google.org Impact Challenge on Climate, which funds bold ideas that aim to use technology to accelerate Europe’s progress toward a greener, more resilient future.

Ronan Harris, MD, Google UK, said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. By focusing on their climate impact they can play a critical role in helping the UK to reach its climate goals and show leadership on a topic their customers care deeply about.

“Climate action has always been a focus for Google – from becoming carbon neutral in 2007 to our latest and most ambitious goal to operate on carbon-free energy, every hour of every day, by 2030. Through partnerships and efforts like these we’re committed to helping other businesses make their own journey towards a carbon-free future.”

Kristian Rönn, CEO, Normative, added: “With the support of the Google.org Fellows we’ll be able to develop the technology that powers the SME Climate Hub to measure carbon footprints much more accurately and in a more automated way. This means we’ll be able to scale the platform to help more businesses, not just in the UK, but around the world.”