Adapt or die: North East businesses urged to take action on net zero

Colin Bell, Business and Sector Growth Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, knows what it takes to create a successful business. And he wants to spread the word amongst North East SMEs that the drive to net zero can’t be ignored if you want your business to survive as the UK races to reduce its carbon emissions.

Here’s Colin’s advice for North East business leaders:

Net zero is going to have a commercial impact on every business, and we need to work together.  

Net zero is an area where most businesses lack direct experience and knowledge.

For example, the starting point of any net zero strategy is to understand your company’s carbon footprint. But how exactly do you do that? These first steps can be difficult and I find that a lot of businesses don’t know where to start.

Having access to other businesses that are on the same journey can help us solve these problems together. Lots of businesses are facing the same challenges and asking the same questions, and that’s why we’re inviting people to join a new Net Zero Peer Network, so we can get started together.


There’s a commercial benefit to developing a net zero plan for your business.

It can lead to efficiencies in operations, better use of digital technologies, and all sorts of innovations that can put your company in a better competitive position.

And when consumers are making decisions about who to buy from, they’re going to put their hand in their pocket for the company that’s playing its part in tackling climate change.

Business that don’t adapt will also have higher costs – you’ll be spending more on energy, and running less efficient business models which will become outdated really quickly.

I’d go as far as to say it’s now a case of adapt or die.

The reality is that businesses that don’t start showing they’re reducing emissions will be locked out of contracts and tender processes.

Already, the government has set a requirement for all suppliers bidding for central government contracts worth more than £5million to commit to achieving net zero.

As bigger companies are forced by legislation to demonstrate their carbon reduction strategies, this will trickle down to their supply chain, as they’ll need to show that their suppliers are also addressing the issue.

There’s no avoiding it, it’s going to touch your business.

Working towards net zero can help your business make a positive difference and become more competitive.

I think that businesses that are purpose led, that want to make a positive difference to the world and leave a positive footprint will want to be a part of this Peer Network group.

As will businesses that are ambitious and want to do things differently. You can use this as an opportunity to grow, develop and become more competitive.

The reality around net zero is that it’s not reliant on the actions of one individual, one business or one country.

It’s reliant on our collective efforts and it’s a case where one plus one can equal five.

We need to create a situation where companies can help each other to achieve net zero in parallel.

There are lots of resources out there but a Peer Network will give businesses practical advice on how to use them.

The Net Zero Peer Network will give you access to experts in business growth and experts in reducing carbon emissions. They’re people who can help you put advice into action.  

The group being cross-sector is another benefit – you’ll learn from the approaches taken in different businesses and I think it will lead to new ideas and will open up new markets for your business.

The net zero agenda is already generating a lot of change and it really will be a case of adapt or die, so I’d urge businesses to take advantage of the help that’s available to get you started on the journey to net zero. 

Find out about joining a Net Zero Peer Network for North East businesses.