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Small business the missing piece in Australia’s net zero future

Announcement posted by Powershop Australia 01 Nov 2021

New research from Powershop Australia shows Australia’s 2.4 million small businesses can have an outsized impact on Australia’s total carbon emissions if, like many large companies at the top end of town, they commit to reducing their carbon footprint yea

With just over half of Australia’s 80 top emitting ASX200 companies setting net zero or carbon neutral goals and some of Australia’s biggest brands committing to purchasing 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2025, Powershop has worked with data partner Geografia, to uncover the impact Australia’s small business sector could have. The data has found Australia’s 2.4 million SMEs emit about 146.5 million tonnes of the nation's carbon emissions annually, and by making some small changes they can help take the equivalent of 15 million of cars off the road. 

Powershop CEO, Jason Stein, said the research was conducted to help Australian small businesses understand their carbon footprint better so they can make decisions about what steps they will take to reduce their carbon footprint, and when. 

“The data shows an average Australian pub, tavern or bar emits around 11.6 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum, with over a third of this coming from their electricity usage. If a pub switched their energy provider to a retailer that carbon offset their energy usage, they could reduce their carbon footprint by around 34% immediately. If every pub, tavern or bar made this small change it would be equivalent to taking over 6,800 cars off the road each year.” 

“Today we are launching the findings of our research as well as some tips to help small businesses feel empowered to easily reduce their impact on the environment. Australian small businesses can go to the Powershop website and easily see these types of calculations for their own industry. Once they make a decision about which ways they want to reduce their CO2 emissions they can make their carbon footprint reduction pledge and receive access to the carbon footprint reduction toolkit.

“Big companies often have sustainability departments or experts to process and analyse this type of data. We know small businesses are just as passionate about ways they can reduce their impact on the planet  but they tell us they don’t have the resources to dive into the details, so we have done it for them,” Jason added.  

Breakdown of the data by four key sectors with some of the largest number of registered small businesses:

Construction is the largest emitter of the four (76%), followed by retail (11.9%), professional services (6.7%) and accommodation and hospitality (5.7%)). Making up a total of 6.6 million tonnes emitted. 

The carbon footprint of these four sectors is broken down by five key carbon emissions areas; materials, electricity, labour, transport and other utilities like water and gas. 

If the four target SME sectors signed up to an electricity plan that’s 100% carbon offset, it would be the equivalent of taking 770,834 cars off the road. 


If they offset 100% their total emissions from materials, electricity, other utilities, labour and transport, it would be the equivalent of 3.98 million cars off the road each year. 


Breakdown of emission types by SMEs in these sectors: 

“We believe Australia can reach net zero emissions by 2050 and we are passionate about helping reach that goal even faster. To get there we not only need more investment in renewable energy and new technologies, we also need every Australian to understand the power they have to make decisions that will drastically change Australia's total carbon emissions. We hope this data and the tools we provide small businesses will help them see how much power they have to make an outsized impact on the environment,” Jason added.

The campaign called Business Carbon Insight Pledge, comes as COP26 kicks off this weekend. To help SMEs get a deeper understanding of the business benefits of running a more sustainable business, Powershop has partnered with some of Australia’s most influential small business owners including denim giant Nobody Denim, chef Guy Turland, construction business Hip V. Hype and Harvey consultancy. 

Small businesses that download the toolkit and pledge their carbon reduction plans will receive a deep dive into the data, social media assets as well as office and in-store stickers that let their customers know they have made the pledge with messages like We’re not in the pollution business and Calories not carbon