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In The Circle: How Yorkshire and Humber Can Reach Ambitious Sustainability Targets

Charlie Collett, Content Marketing Coordinator May 28, 2021

Collaboration, innovation and adaptation – these were the main themes at In The Circle Yorkshire on 19th May 2021. The day of events hosted by TheBusinessDesk brought together local authority figures, businesses, and researchers to discuss how businesses in Yorkshire and Humber can contribute to a sustainable future and reach ambitious carbon neutral and net zero targets.

As a sustainable IT provider with our largest HQ in Harrogate, Yorkshire, we were particularly keen to hear about the latest strategies in the region and how businesses can get involved.

Investment in Yorkshire and Humber

Lord Callanan, Minister of Climate Change and Corporate Responsibility gave the opening keynote speech, stating that the government has invested £33 billion to support sustainable projects across the region. Projects include the integration of energy efficient, low-carbon energy supplies and the creation of well-paid jobs to support local communities in a sustainable way.

Outlining the importance of “kickstarting a green business revolution”, Lord Callanan discussed the impressive cost savings available for businesses whilst choosing greener alternatives. “Many small businesses are keen to contribute to a sustainable future but are unsure how. The Business Climate Hub is available online where SMEs can sign up to commitments and read advice about how to become greener whilst saving money.”

As a team that has been supporting businesses and public sector organisations to maximise their IT budgets, we have seen first-hand the increasing demand for sustainable solutions such as refurbished technology. We have also seen people’s surprise to learn about the significant cost savings available when choosing greener alternatives.

Don’t forget about young people

The impacts of climate change are already being felt, and no generation will feel the effects more than the younger generation. Emily Gee, Research Assistant at Royal Holloway explained why there needs to be a focus on affordable changes across Yorkshire, for instance projects like the £1 bus scheme in Leeds city centre which makes public transport accessible for everybody.

“An Oxford study explains that going vegan, or even partially vegan, means you have a 73% chance of reducing your carbon footprint,” Emily stated. Small and cost friendly changes, like the 80 Yorkshire cafes that have 100% vegan menus, are important to keep young people engaged and represented. And as a city with approximately 37,000 university students, Leeds is the perfect place to lead by example and prioritise sustainability for younger generations.

The UN Climate Change Conference: COP26

Emily spoke as part of the COP26 discussion panel, which is the 26th UN climate change conference taking place later in 2021. At the conference, UN members and governments will be finalising the Paris Rulebook, which is the framework in which we will aim to reach the Paris Agreement target (reducing the temperature increase to 1.5oc).

Nick Baker, Deputy Director for Business and Engagement at COP26 discussed the four main focuses that COP26 will have in Glasgow 2021:

  • Mitigation – trying to keep 1.5oc target within reach
  • Adaptation – Restore ecosystems, building defences, putting weather warning systems in place to protect livelihoods
  • Mobilising finance – aiming for £100 billion invested in sustainability projects
  • Collaboration – working together to achieve all of these things

Nick also discussed the Race To Zero, which brings together regions, businesses and local authorities to commit to 5 to 10 year strategies to reach net zero. This was one of many instances where panellists discussed the power that small businesses have to play when it comes to ambitious global targets.

“We need large scale solutions”

Mike Barry, Strategic Advisor and Commentator on Sustainable Business, gave the second keynote speech of the day. Mike praised the positive steps taken by businesses, such as the NHS committing to net zero by 2035 and Morrisons working with over 3000 British farmers to become carbon neutral by 2030. People are also beginning to change their behaviours, such as walking not driving, and choosing reusable coffee cups.

However, Mike emphasised that we need large scale solutions, not just individual actions. This was echoed by Kim Yates, Sustainability & Climate Change Lead EUNA at Mott Mcdonald, who said “there is a willingness and the technology there to become more sustainable – now we need clear policies to get us there”.

How are things looking in the region?

It’s positive to hear the financial support that Yorkshire and Humber authorities are providing to help create a circular economy. There is also a strong dedication from businesses and individuals across the region. At Techbuyer we have witnessed this through the growing demand for refurbished technology, local strategies such as the Circular Economy Strategy and Action Plan (Circular Yorkshire), and local research including University of Leeds undergraduate projects that our team has supported. We have also contributed to the Business Inspired Growth website as a circular business case study.

There are some really positive steps being taken, including the creation of community forests, education hubs, and SMEs committing to climate targets. However, as the majority of speakers mentioned through the event, there is definitely a long way to go. Continued collaboration between businesses, local authorities and government and stricter policies is the way forward.

Want to make your IT strategy more sustainable?

Techbuyer is a global provider of sustainable IT solutions with its largest HQ in Harrogate, Yorkshire. We are experienced at maximising budgets by buying, refurbishing, selling, upgrading, repairing, or replacing IT hardware. For any help finding the right solution for your specific requirements, get in touch with our team today.

Our approach is 100% circular and we were proud to win Circular Economy of the Year at the IEMA Awards in 2020. We also get involved with research projects that further circularity in the industry, such as the CEDaCI project, which is bringing together experts across Europe to find solutions to long-asked questions in the data centre industry.

Techbuyer has also launched Interact, a new business stream that optimises energy usage, carbon load, supply chain emissions, and cost for data centre IT hardware. It is the only tool on the market that provides concrete, vendor specific recommendations to minimise the environmental impact of data centres. To find out more, visit the Interact website.