Carrot or stick? How do we get businesses behind the UK's future net zero target?

Which works best: the carrot or the stick? Is punishment more effective than positive reinforcement and more importantly, which method will make the biggest impact when it comes to reaching the UK’s net zero objectives?

Net zero means achieving a balance between the greenhouse gases put into the atmosphere and those taken out. For this to become a reality many government bodies and eco organisations are suggesting that more direct action needs to be taken, suggesting that the road to compliance lies in punishing businesses that do not get behind the charge to become more sustainable.

Last month the Government announced new funding plans following COP26. Officials said about £26bn of funding towards green planning would come from the public sector over the next spending review period, from 2021 to 2025, with more than £60bn expected from the private sector. They pointed to nearly £6bn in overseas investment in green projects in the UK since Johnson set out his 10-point green plan last year, and said the investment was essential for the UK to remain competitive in the global race to a green economy. However, a parallel document – the Net Zero Review – published by the Treasury showed that the government was likely to lose tens of billions in revenues from fossil fuel taxes and highlighted other risks from green policies such as businesses moving abroad and the potential need for new taxes.

Kevin Anderson, a professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester, said: “The UK’s net zero strategy falls far short of both its Paris and G7 temperature and equity commitments. Scour the associated spreadsheets and the numbers reveal a story of subterfuge, delusion, offsetting and piecemeal policies – all dressed up as a shiny new strategy for Cop26”.

Does this mean it’s now time to get tough?

Business leaders are focusing more on delivering their environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. This places climate response and the road to net zero at the core of business strategy, many of whom recognise the need for change – not solely for compliance purposes, but in order to remain competitive in a consumer world becoming increasingly concerned with the environmental credentials of the businesses they choose to engage with.

Currently there are many tax policies, levies and subsidies have been put in place to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Well-intentioned as these policies may be, the patchwork approach of successive governments has resulted in wildly inconsistent incentives to reduce emissions. Overall tax rates on emissions vary dramatically, including by the source of the emissions and the type of end user. Setting highly uneven incentives is an inefficient way to reduce emissions and is making the transition to net zero more costly than it needs to be. Therefore then, this isn’t the one optimum solution.

Ultimately, it seems that a combination of the carrot and stick is needed in this approach. Unless properly thought-out, grants and incentives are at risk of failing to make a meaningful difference. For example, the failure of the green homes grant that happened earlier this year – this was the result of long delays in issuing vouchers and paying installers, leaving many installers owed significant amounts of money. Many have pulled out of the scheme and some householders have waited more than five months for the grants to install heat pumps and solar thermals to replace fossil fuel heating systems.

It’s clear that more needs to be done and that new tax policies are unlikely to work unless there’s a balance with incentives and grants. Businesses and domestic consumers both have a part to play but are limited unless the Government provides some help.

One thing that all businesses can do today however is switch to a renewable energy supplier. UGP is rated 5 stars on Trust Pilot and is here and ready to help you make the switch to a more renewable future. Get a quote today.

UGP’s Head of Major Accounts Discusses Actions from COP26 by Announcing Exciting New Partnership with the Institute of Hospitality

The news this month has been dominated by the global fight against climate change following COP26 in Glasgow, and I’m encouraged to see a number of key pledges and commitments following the summit. Working in the commercial energy industry, I’m all too aware of the importance of corporate sustainability for our customers and I’ve witnessed a huge surge in the demand for renewable energy solutions over the past few years.

This month, we forged a new partnership with the Institute of Hospitality. I was particularly struck by how passionately the topic of sustainability was discussed and after reading the latest HQ Magazine, it’s evident to me that environmental responsibility is gaining huge momentum within the hospitality sector. Businesses are beginning to realise that in addition to their moral obligation to help the UK’s future net zero target, there are multiple benefits that adopting a more sustainable way of working can bring to their businesses, not only with energy but areas such as food waste and sustainable Christmas decorations. And how much impact these strategies have on not just customer attraction but also staff attraction and retention.

Now more than ever people and businesses want to work with and for responsible partners. I’ve helped a number of organisations make the switch to a sustainable energy programme, and those customers have reported a number of key commercial benefits such as an enhanced ability to attract staff, customers and partners to their businesses.

During the pandemic, consumer behaviour shifted. Online shopping experienced its highest growth in over a decade and when given more time to consider purchases at home, customers began to consider factors such as brand reputation, ethics and environmental sustainability when making their decisions. The tide has most definitely turned, and businesses that can demonstrate a social conscience now will undoubtedly enjoy a competitive edge as we get closer to net zero.

I’ve also witnessed a surge in the demand for electric vehicle charging points, a service we’re delighted to offer UGP customers. It’s predicted that by 2030, 60% of the UK’s new car sales will be “plug-in” models. This is great news, but it represents a real challenge for the UK charging infrastructure. Hospitality businesses will have a key role to play in increasing the charging network across the UK and with many financial incentives for early adopters, now is the time for the sector to start to consider installing EV charging stations. Working with the IOH members, I’m looking forward to making a meaningful impact to a carbon neutral UK.

I’m excited to be able to help businesses within the UK hospitality sector to reduce their carbon footprints with the supply of 100% renewable energy. All of the power we supply at UGP comes from wind, hydro and solar sources of energy and one of the single most significant changes that businesses can make to become more sustainable is to switch to a renewable energy supply. While there’s a common belief that renewable power is more expensive than its non-renewable alternatives, this is not true – we’ve been supplying renewable power at no additional cost to our customers for years.

 

Visit the brand new page on the website to find out more.

Whenever there’s a global summit, pledging to tackle the real issues of the world, I always take it with a pinch of salt. I don’t think I’m alone in my scepticism, given past government pledges and global agreements which have often fallen by the wayside, mere months down the road. This year’s COP26 seems to feel different. For the first time, climate is on the lips of people everywhere. From children to activists and, importantly, businesses.

As an Account Manager who had been talking to businesses about their energy and environmental impact for years, I have been following the news closely. Slowly, but surely, the tone of the conversations is beginning to shift. Cost savings are paramount, as always, but if not number 1, then the number 2 criteria for businesses now, is their impact on the environment. Be this from an altruistic origin, or whether, being seen as green and having those credentials will improve their business takings, either way is it a huge step forward. One which, I personally, am very happy to see.

One of the reasons I get satisfaction from my role here, is the real and evident action we’ve taken to do our bit. Not just pledges. We do not buy ANY electricity generated from fossil fuels. Each business we supply can be sure their electricity use is 100% renewable and that they have cut their carbon emissions significantly. We plant a tree for every new customer to further our positive impact and genuinely make a difference to businesses and their emissions every day.

Whilst this is very rewarding, it’s not everything we would hope a group of nation leaders to be able to achieve. Tree planting, by individuals or business, is simply not enough. The pledge to stop deforestation is incredibly positive, but there’s my scepticism again – who will be policing this?

A stop to logging is great if it does happen, but is there then a plan in place to re-wild the amazon and other depleted natural environments? We share this planet with miraculous creatures who are losing their home and food sources, purely because of human activities. Ignoring re-wilding is as bad as turning off the tap in a flood and not siphoning away any water.

There is hope though, a real glimmer of light, which might, this time, not be an illusion. Business and industrial energy use is the largest contributor to carbon emissions and climate change in the UK. One by one, businesses are choosing renewable and green energy sources for more reasons than price. The message is getting through, perhaps we have figures like Sir David Attenborough to thank? Either way at last it feels like real change is now taking place.

I believe that with further growth in renewable generation, more affordable green options and government incentives, there will be nothing in the way of a change to carbon free energy. The price of supply is no different, if not more competitive than brown energy. Green suppliers tend to have a good staff ethos, like UGP. Our staff clamour to go on our tree planting days to make their own difference in the landscape. This leads to an excellent, people-focussed service from a team with morals, not always easy to find in the energy market en mass.

Overall, cautious optimism is my current standing. The pledges made would create real change, not just in slowing the global temperature, but even the possibility of reversing that trend. Let’s hold onto hope of integrity and genuine commitment from these countries, to deliver what they have said. It may seem a long shot, but I’m hopeful. This is a beautiful and wondrous planet which we inhabit. Let’s work together to get it back to it’s former glory. Please?

Sally Rusbatch, UGP Account Manager.

 

 

I was never much of an “eco ambassador” – to me the challenges of climate change and environmental sustainability lay firmly at the foot of our world leaders and government bodies. Sure, I did my bit, half-heartedly recycling when it was convenient for me, but I never really thought it was something I could do anything about. Saving the planet was someone else’s problem not mine – let’s leave it to the green party and “eco campaigners” was my distorted attitude – they know more than me. How wrong I was and how little I understood.

In 2011 I had my first child and my perspective changed entirely. Suddenly, the future of our planet wasn’t just about me – it became about my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and I began to think about the issues a little deeper. I became acutely aware of the result that the actions I take today will directly and unequivocally impact the future for my family.

The news this week is awash with COP26 pledges and commitments; and of course it should be. Part way through the summit, I’m delighted to see that some progress seems to be afoot.

More than 100 world leaders have promised to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. The countries who have signed the pledge – including Canada, Brazil, Russia, China, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the US and the UK (the full list is here) – cover around 85% of the world’s forests.

The US and the EU have announced a global partnership to cut emissions of the greenhouse gas methane by 2030. The Global Methane Pledge aims to limit methane emissions by 30% compared with 2020 levels. It is one of the most potent greenhouse gases and responsible for a third of current warming from human activities.

South Africa is set to receive $8.5bn (£6.2bn) to help end its reliance on coal in a deal announced at the COP26 climate summit. The country is currently a major emitter of greenhouse gases as a result of its addiction to coal, which it uses to generate electricity.

This deal, funded by wealthier nations, could have both global and local implications.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has said his Bezos Earth Fund will spend $2bn (£1.5bn) restoring landscapes and transforming food systems. Entrepreneurs including Mr Bezos have been criticised for spending money on trips into space instead of solving problems on Earth. The Bezos Earth Fund plans to spend $10bn fighting climate change overall.

But in witnessing the COP26 highlights so far, what’s painfully clear to me is that, despite what eventually results at the end of this week, without the effort of every person and business inhabiting the earth, right now, we won’t be able to make a meaningful impact to the very real threat that faces our existence for future generations.

I joined United Gas & Power, a UK commercial energy supplier in 2019, in a marketing role – not to save the planet, but to support and provide for my family as a single mum. Little did I know that in that same year I’d be a part of a scheme that resulted in the business making a full commitment to renewable power for all its customers. I’ve had many highlights in my 25-year career, but this was undoubtedly one of the most memorable.

As the Head of Marketing for UGP I wanted to write something meaningful this week about how we can all affect change in the light of COP26 – but my words will always fall short because without tangible action, I’m just another voice in a sea of voices that know far more than I. So, Instead I thought I’d highlight the efforts of a new, up and coming UK business that has taken it upon themselves to lead the way.

Dukeries Retreat is a business that was born in the chaos of the covid lock down. A hospitality business offering luxury UK glamping, that decided to challenge convention in one of the worst market conditions the industry has ever faced. Their commitment to sustainability is exemplary and at UGP we’re proud to be a part of their story.

Check out their case study here – I hope it will inspire other businesses to follow suit and seek out a sustainable way of working, so that our future generations can continue to enjoy our beautiful planet.

And if you want to check out a fabulous staycation site, a number of UGP employees have been and loved it – check it out! https://www.dukeriesretreat.co.uk

Joanna Czternastek

Head of Marketing, United Gas & Power

 

 

 

The 5 Most Important Factors Large and Multi-Site Businesses Need to Consider When Choosing an Energy Supplier

Selecting a new energy supplier, particularly for large and multi-site businesses, is a key element in controlling a significant business spend category. Many factors including customer service, reputation, ease of switch, administration and additional added value services are all key considerations. In this blog we examine the five most important factors large and multi-site businesses should consider when choosing a new energy supplier.

1) Sustainability

In the years ahead, demonstrating your commitment to environmental sustainability across all areas of the business, from waste management to encouraging staff to cycle or walk to work, will be the one of the biggest areas of adjustment faced by UK organisations. Partnering with a 100% renewable energy supplier will form an essential part of demonstrating to your clients your green credentials. Alongside this the government’s future net zero targets will apply increasing pressure to organisations to take advantage of renewable energy suppliers, meaning they could be rewarded or penalised on their sustainable strategies.

2) Analysis

Understanding the past to inform the present and future. Nearly every business across the country has been through extreme changes in consumption over the past 2 years. From the severe consumption reductions of the first national lock-down to rapid increases following the post-pandemic boom analysing your daily and annual consumption pattern over this period will give business leaders real-life analysis of how and where consumption can be reduced in the future. In turn this will assist in lowering unit rates and overall spend alongside assisting your overall sustainable strategy.

 

Annual consumption graph Annual consumption graph, showing customers overall usage increase post Summer 2020 lockdown.

Average daily consumption graphs Average daily consumption graphs. Displaying variances between Summer and Winter usage, along with differences between weekday/ weekends.

 

3) Price/ Contract Structure

Understanding your aims as a business, growth plans, potential expansion, and attitudes to risk (and potential rewards) are all key factors in determining your optimum contract structure. Selecting the correct structure will give you control over your energy spend and through using a supplier who gives you direct market access ensure that you are able to mitigate cost increases in a rising market and take full advantage of falling bearish market conditions.

4) Administration

One hidden element when taking an energy contract is the cost of management and administration. This element should form a key component of the decision-making process, no more so than for multi-site operations. Addressing this has 2 main advantages. Aligning end dates with 1 single supplier will:

a) Give significant cost advantages when tendering. Business who are tendering significant volumes will see cost reductions compared to tendering multiple times throughout the year for smaller groups.

b) Reduce the time admin and finance departments spend processes invoices, dealing with multiple suppliers over different issues.

For example, Independent Vet Care, a key client of United Gas & Power has over 1000 sites and prior to becoming a client of UGP had different contract end dates, different bill dates and invoices being submitted randomly across the year so had become an administration nightmare. UGP submitted a full proposal that contained these key components;

You can read the full case study by clicking here. Therefore you should look for energy companies who are prepared to give you access to a portal that gives you all your information and dedicated account management.

5) Direct Supplier/ Live Market Access

This means that you have access to the organisations trading floor and expertise when it comes to energy trading. In this respect you’ll get advice and foresight on what the market is doing and can often lock in great energy deal for up to 5 years in advance.

Act Now

United Gas & Power work with many large and multi-site businesses and we have the experience and knowledge to handle even the most complex of requirements. If you want to discuss further please click here to request a quote or click here for more information.

United Gas & Power Offsets 255 Tonnes of Carbon by Planting 1,531 Trees

 

In 2019 United Gas & Power (UGP) partnered with the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) on their together for trees campaign. This means United Gas & Power now funds the planting of a new tree in the Yorkshire Dales for every new customer as a way to help offset the environmental impact of each new energy contract. This campaign is part of the belief that energy needs to be renewable for future generations and after the latest donation for Q3 2021, UGP are proud to have now reached over 1,500 trees, offsetting 255 tonnes of carbon!

The Woodland Trust estimates that the UK needs to plant 1.5 billion trees by 2050 to reach net zero emissions and UGP believe that UK Plc should also play its part in the tree-planting movement.

Part of the partnership means members of the UGP team going out and lending a hand with YDMT. Recently a team was out and about in Grassington working hard on maintenance work to ensure the trees were growing well. The team worked on the Bargh Wood site, which is around half a mile from Stainforth on the Ribble Way with sensational panoramic views of Pendle Hill, Pen-y-Ghent and Winskill as well as Langcliffe and Settle. The aim of the day was to ensure the tree posts were firmly rooted, the guards for the saplings were intact and any weeds were pulled out to ensure the tree was not overshadowed for sunlight and water.

Now more than ever it is imperative that we look at more sustainable, renewable solutions and that’s exactly what UGP are striving to achieve. Not only does 100% of the power supplied by UGP is powered from renewable sources, but they are also offering more services. The last few years have witnessed a huge surge in the demand for Electric Vehicles in the UK and sources predict that by 2030, 60% of all new vehicles sold will be ‘plug-in’ models. UGP is proud to be able to offer EV charging.

To help businesses understand their impact on the environment UGP invites you to complete their new carbon calculator on their new re-vamped website. One of the most significant changes you can make as a business to reduce your carbon footprint is to switch to 100% renewable power. Use this carbon calculator to see the Co2 emissions impact you could have by switching.

 

Click here to complete the carbon calculator!

 

For a quick no obligation quote for renewable energy for your business, click here.

The cost of energy is never far from the headlines and with prices set to soar this winter, it may surprise you to learn which sectors will be hit the hardest. In this blog, we’ve tallied up the kWh (kilowatt hour measure of power usage) across a variety of common UK businesses.

Whilst consumption can vary vastly from sector to sector it won’t come as much of a shock that the transport and the manufacturing industry such as textile production use a lot of power, but how do some of our most common businesses fare?

1) Supermarkets –

Unsurprisingly, large supermarkets use on average 1130000 kwh a year, this is down to the large amount of power needed to keep refrigerators cold, freezers frozen, large lighting units and with amenities usually in store like a bakers.

2) Hotels –

Especially large hotels that have facilities like restaurants on site or even pools or saunas will find themselves raking up about 250,000 kwh a year.

3) 24 Hour Gyms/Leisure Centres –

Gym equipment, lighting, showers, computers, pools and air conditioning quickly add up but even more so if they are running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All this equates to an average of 125,000 kwh a year.

4) Restaurants –

Hard working chefs in busy kitchens plus the need for ample fridge and freezer space usually in the form of a walk-in freezer mean restaurants come out at an average of 85,000 kwh a year.

5) Small Gyms (with set opening/closing times) –

As previously mentioned gym’s consume a lot of energy however by implementing set opening hours the average goes down to 60,000 kwh a year.

6) Small Offices –

Since covid there has been a decline in large office blocks with many businesses seeing the savings of working remotely. However, there are still several small offices and even hybrid and hot desking solutions. Due to numerous computers and laptops, printers, scanners, copiers, kettles or boiling water taps, lighting and air con whilst even still being a small office set-up this average comes out at 50,000 kwh a year.

7)Hairdressers –

Standing hair dryers, curlers, straighteners, hand-held hair dryers and hot water all use power and even our small high street local hairdressers use an average of 40,000 kwh a year.

8) Clothes Stores –

Even just small high street stores can find lighting, air con/heating, tills and computers can equate to 25,000 kwh a year.

9) Coffee Shops –

When making a coffee the coffee machine will use around 300 to 600 watts of power for 2 cups of coffee and 1000 to 1500 watts for 8-10 cups of coffee. We estimate that an average coffee maker will use 800 watts to produce 4 cups of coffee in 10 minutes. Whilst this may make you think twice about how often you use that fancy machine at home, spare a thought for coffee shops that use an average of 19,008 kwh a year.

Many of these sectors have been put under strain throughout covid, and as energy prices soar in the run up to winter the need to keep energy costs down is on many a business owners mind.

Speak to one of our team today and find out how switching to UGP can save you money. Call our dedicated account managers on 0844 318 0044.

Reviews are paramount to a business success, the majority of potential customers will heavily research into a product, service and business before committing to a purchase. Therefore, having lots of reviews will help make you stand out from the crowd. United Gas & Power prides itself on being rated five stars on Trust Pilot. Here are our top tips to not only get more reviews but get the right ones too.

1) Identify the best time to ask

This will be when the purchase or service has been received, this could mean having to wait weeks even months, but it is best to wait. If you request a review after the purchase stage the customer will either fill in a very basic, un-detailed review which is no help to anyone or wait until the item or service has been received and if it has been poor, they probably won’t give you the opportunity to resolve and just leave a negative review. We advise to wait a week after the product has been received or the service has been completed. Also don’t just request the review, first ask how they found the experience etc then you can resolve any issues and the review should (hopefully) be based on the overall experience not just one potentially negative element.

2) Choose one platform

There are many methods of reviews; Google My Business, Trust Pilot, Which?, TripAdvisor etc. It is recommended to stick to one so that you can drive all your customers to it.

It is important to remember that not everyone will bother to take the time out to give you a review – very few people do. So, in order to ensure you capture as many as possible stick to one platform. Additionally, your type of business is probably more suited to one over the other, for example trade businesses do really well on Which? Whilst TripAdvisor suits eateries and hotels.

3) Embrace the negativity

negative review is an opportunity to demonstrate how your business resolves issues and communicates with it’s customers. If a business has 100% positive reviews that will flag suspicion with a lot of people because like people no business is perfect. However, you will be judged on how you respond to negative reviews. It’s simple, never ignore a negative review, never delete them, and always respond in a calm and professional manner offering a suitable resolution remembering not to disclose any sensitive or personal information.

4) Incentivise (if needed)

If you are really struggling to get reviews and especially if you are a new business starting out (as you will really need to get the reviews in to prove you are a legitimate business) then you may need to consider incentivising. Decide on an attractive yet feasible incentive, one that won’t break your bank but that will get people putting the effort in to review.

5) Make the most of good reviews

Whenever you get a good review – really make the most of it. Share it on your social channels and if you can’t share a screenshot of the review and post it on your profile. You can also copy and paste the content of the review and use it in email marketing or a newsletter linking back to the original source so the recipient can check it is a real review.

UGP is a 5 Star rated “excellent” commercial energy supplier, offering great value renewable power to businesses across the UK. Customer experience lies at the heart of our business and we take great pride in our reputation. If you’d like to switch to a company that delivers an unrivalled level of customer care, as well as low cost renewable business energy, complete our quick form here and we’ll get back to you immediately!

For a no obligation quote click here!

Clean Air Day 2021: Educate to Protect Our Future Generations

Clean Air Day is the UK’s largest air pollution campaign, engaging thousands of people at hundreds of events, and reaching millions more through the media. Every year, air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK.  The World Health Organisation and the UK Government recognise that air pollution is the largest environmental health risk we face today. Poor air quality causes both heart and lung diseases, is linked to low birth weight and children’s lung development and may even contribute to mental health issues. Therefore, this Clean Air Day the focus is on educating and informing in order to protect our future generations.

As a renewable energy provider we believe it is your responsibility to educate and inform your staff. Some ideas on how to achieve this are;

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, business travel and the commuting of employees to and from the office was a major source of air pollution for most businesses. While home-working has become the norm for many companies and business travel has somewhat ceased temporarily, there are still proactive actions companies can incorporate now and in any return-to-work plans.

Consider whether any of the following might be prevalent in your business:

For Clean Air Day itself you can encourage walking or cycling to work, flexible working, working from home or even car share. The official website has lots of resources including downloadable, printable pledge cards you can hand out to your employees and ask them to make a pledge such as walk more in an effort to help reduce air pollution!

One of the biggest changes you can make as a business is to switch to a renewable energy provider who is committed to helping reach net zero 2030.

Click here for a low cost no obligation renewable energy quote!

World Environment Day 2021: Why Now It’s Time to Act!

Since 1974, World Environment Day has been celebrated every year on 5 June, engaging governments, businesses and citizens in an effort to address pressing environmental issues. In the last few years we have seen what a dramatic effect we have on the planet and by making changes we can have a positive impact. Businesses now have the opportunity to set an example to their employees and inspire them to make positive changes.

Did you know?

The theme of this years’ world environment day is #GenerationRestoration.

Ecosystem restoration means preventing, halting and reversing this damage – to go from exploiting nature to healing it. This World Environment Day will kick off the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global mission to revive billions of hectares, from forests to farmlands, from the top of mountains to the depth of the sea.

How Can Businesses Get Involved?

Above all, World Environment Day offers a global platform for inspiring positive change. It pushes for individuals to think about the way they consume; for businesses to develop greener models; for farmers and manufacturers to produce more sustainably; for governments to invest in repairing the environment; for educators to inspire students to take action; and for youth to build a greener future.

The single most important thing a business can do is switch to a renewable energy supplier.

Speak to one of our team today and find out what a difference switching to UGP can make.

Click here for an instant quote.