Climate plan: small businesses and big manufacturers targeted

Government warns a ‘dramatic turnaround’ is needed

Businesses emitted the equivalent of 7.9m tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018. Photograph: iStock

Government climate change plans will target small businesses using industrial gases and demand that big manufacturers already in the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) cut carbon output.

Businesses emitted the equivalent of 7.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018 and 71 per cent of this fell within the EU ETS, says the updated Government Climate Action Plan.

The biggest share came from 64 separate operations in food and drink production, and aluminium and cement manufacturing.

EU rules require businesses taking part in the trading scheme to cut emissions to 39 per cent of their 2005 levels by 2030.


Outside this, the plan notes that enterprise emissions are “highly diverse”, and include many companies that work with industrial or F-gases for refrigeration, air conditioning and semiconductor production.

Overall business emissions surged 44 per cent from the easing of a severe recession in 2011 to 2018.

The Government warns that a “dramatic turnaround” in this is needed if business is to contribute to national climate change targets.

Many buildings have poor energy ratings and use little renewable power, while fossil fuels power 97 per cent of transport, says the document.

Government wants businesses to take several steps to cut emissions. These include increasing the use of “carbon-neutral” heating, phasing out F-gases, electrifying heating and cutting carbon in building materials.


The State will produce online advice for small businesses seeking ways to cut their emissions.

EU laws will continue to demand that large companies audit energy use and publicly report on their environmental impact.

“Action by central Government must be reinforced by the wider public service,” the action plan states.

“ The enterprise agencies, having regard to their statutory mandates, must prioritise decarbonisation as part of their strategies.”

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas