Is sustainability still a priority for UK businesses in the aftermath of COVID?
If you ask Gill Alker, Head of Consultancy at AMP Clean Energy, the answer is a resounding yes.
With the pandemic having severely impacted the balance sheets of millions of businesses around the world, I caught up with Gill to find out whether this meant decarbonisation was sliding down the agenda – she assured me that nothing could be further from the truth, noting that if anything, the virus and subsequent lockdowns have sharpened the world’s focus on going green.
Gill works with large industrial, commercial and corporate organisations to help them drive down emissions, improve their bottom line through efficiency improvements and ultimately, work towards delivering net zero.
She acknowledged that in the short term, the pandemic may have made it more difficult for some businesses to financially justify making the investments needed in new infrastructure or plant to help become low carbon, but highlighted that in the long term, she was confident that it will have only a positive effect.
Where businesses might be unable to make the upfront payments needed, Gill emphasised that this is where AMP Clean Energy comes in, to help finance sustainable energy and heat projects in a way that will work for them.
She added that the last year has proved big changes can be made without things falling apart – often, disruption and sudden changes result in businesses becoming more streamlined, green and efficient.
She stated: “I think the pandemic has probably initiated the biggest amount of behavioural change that we could possibly imagine, in terms of reducing transport, just thinking of different ways to do things.
“Admittedly the behavioural change we’ve encountered over the last 12 months has not been to solve climate change, but it has had a by-product of having reduced carbon emissions and I think that’s opened our eyes to the potential of what we could do.
“We’ve seen this change, lots of people working at home, not travelling, perhaps thinking a little bit more about what they buy and what they throw away, and giving them a little bit of headspace – businesses have seen this as well, they’ve adapted quite significantly to this.”