What Does ‘Net Zero’ Mean For UK Manufacturers & The Green Recovery?

Posted by Andrea Wilson on Mar 29, 2021 4:41:00 PM


The UK has a legally binding target to reach ‘net zero’ carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. This bold target has already done much to affect the landscape of UK manufacturing, and is set to dominate the conversation over manufacturing strategies and technologies for the next 30 years. Reaching net zero, or carbon neutrality, necessitates reducing overall carbon emissions, and offsetting those emissions that can’t be avoided – e.g. by tree planting and other removal strategies. In order to reach the target, the UK will need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 – scarily that’s only 9 years away!


Covid-19 and the Green Recovery

Since the net zero target became law in June 2019, the economy has been rocked to its foundations by the Covid-19 pandemic which did not factor into anyone’s plans when creating the framework for how the target is to be achieved. The net zero agenda is now complicated by the need to radically rebuild the UK manufacturing sector, both to make up ground lost during the pandemic, and to forge a new identity on the world stage following Brexit.

Is carbon neutrality set to be quietly brushed under the carpet, or is there a way to achieve both zero carbon and increased productivity?

We believe there are reasons to be optimistic on both counts.

Increased adoption of digital automation strategies in manufacturing, alongside energy efficient technologies, are the key components of the so-called Green Recovery, in which the manufacturing sector builds back greener and stronger from the damage caused by the pandemic. This approach has wide support among UK manufacturers, who have a critical contribution to make if the country is to meet its net zero target.

A roadmap for change

Make UK, the professional organisation representing UK manufacturers, recently published an ambitious roadmap setting out the tools, resources, and best practices necessary for the sector to meet its carbon reduction targets at key milestones leading up to 2050.

For the green recovery to be future proof, resilient and genuinely sustainable, the changes across the industry need to be widespread. The silver lining to the pandemic was the way the crisis illustrated the potential of manufacturers to work together to share resources and direct research at pressing issues, without losing the sector’s diversity or competitive edge. Business-led initiatives in the field of PPE, automation, ventilation, and medical logistics (e.g., cold storage for vaccines) kept the economy moving during the lockdowns of 2020/21 and made a genuine contribution to the fightback against the virus.

Business leaders now have greater confidence in the ability of the sector to implement ambitious short-term actions, and have the networks in place to collaborate widely with other industry sectors, the government, and non-governmental organisations.

Demystifying Net Zero

Businesses of all sizes have a role to play in the green recovery, opening up exciting possibilities for growth, as well as contributing to the overall success of the sector in reducing emissions. In an effort to improve green networking and establish common ground among manufacturers, Make UK is organising a series of six webinars throughout the summer aimed at ‘Demystifying Net Zero’. There will also be a new Net Zero Hub on the Make UK website, in which collaborating businesses can share guides, blogs, research findings, and best practices.

We appreciate we’ve missed the first two but they’re available on YouTube and tickets to the remaining Demystifying Net Zero webinars and workshops can be booked using the links below:

Find out more

To find out more about our services and how we can help your business grow and thrive during the green recovery, feel free to give us a call, connect with us on LinkedIn, or click here to send us a message.

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Image source: Pixabay


Topics: the green recovery, carbon emissions, net zero

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