As the hottest year on record draws to a close, we caught up with our co-founder, Simon Heppner, to capture his reflections on what 2023 looked like for Net Zero Now, climate action more broadly, and his hopes for 2024.
Q.It's been a busy year for Net Zero Now. What have been your highlights?
The continued growth of the NZN team—both in numbers and in individual and team development—is a key highlight for me. This growth means that we exit the year even better placed to offer expert climate support to our clients. And whilst we’ve been working extraordinarily hard, we’ve also had the opportunity to play hard too, most memorably at this year’s summer away day in Brighton, where we were joined by esteemed Professor Mark Maslin, Net Zero Now’s new climate adviser, who gave us insight into the extent of the climate challenge we face.
We’ve had some interesting projects on the go, too. We worked with Edgbaston Stadium to deliver the UK’s first climate conscious international cricket match, the IT20 against New Zealand—and this work has provided a foundation for ongoing work with Edgbaston in 2024 and, hopefully, a new Sports Venue protocol. And, of course, it was great to be back at Glastonbury, delivering again for our client, The Rabbit Hole Bar.
It's been a strong year for collaboration, too. Working with peers is essential to accelerating climate action, and being involved as a founding member of the Carbon Accounting Alliance has been inspiring.
Q.What did Net Zero Now’s year look like in numbers?
Our sector approach continues to resonate, so launching bespoke guidance with our partners for 5 new sectors this year—hair salons, breweries, law, financial advisers, and accountants—may have been the most important number.
2023 saw more clients joining us in each sector and using more features on the platform to develop more credible climate plans. And, though I think milestones are somewhat arbitrary, reaching 500,000 tco2e under management among our clients also felt significant.
Q.What have been NZN’s main challenges in 2023?
Although the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid dangerous warming is now broadly acknowledged, this is still not translating into widespread action, so we are still spending much of our time spelling out the value proposition and making the case for action to businesses. Mandatory disclosure on footprint, targets, and transition plans is coming and would change this, but the pace does not match the urgency of the situation.
Q.2023 is already being declared the hottest year on record. How worrying is this?
Global carbon emissions are still increasing, so the fact that temperatures are rising is not surprising. We still have a window of opportunity to turn this around, and the pace of renewable deployment, the desire for change, and the growing awareness of the disaster that awaits us if we fail mean that I still believe that we will.
Q.What one development in 2023 gives you the most hope for the future?
As an optimist, there are moments every day that make me hopeful. I focus on the conclusion of the IPCC report that Every Action Matters and feel a bit more hopeful with every new client that we onboard. It’s often the small things that turn out to be most significant—an unheralded announcement last month that from April next year any supplier providing goods or services to the NHS over the value of £10,000 must have a net zero commitment could turn out to be a game changer.
Q.Can you reveal any of the new things we can expect to see from Net Zero Now in 2024?
We’re working on some exciting platform developments that will make things even easier and improve our users’ ability to forecast their footprint into the future. And, of course, I’m very excited about the new sector initiatives that we have in the pipeline for sports venues, construction, warehousing, and charities.
Q.What is the policy change that you would most like to see in the coming year?
Mandatory disclosure on carbon footprints, targets and transition plans for businesses of all sizes, and transition funding to support the action required.
Q.In one sentence (or two at a push), how would you inspire a business to get on the road to Net Zero in 2024?
Having a credible climate strategy makes every conversation with every stakeholder easier. Whether it's employees, customers, lenders, or local authorities, having a carbon reduction plan makes business easier, with more opportunities, lower costs, and less risk.
If you feel suitably inspired to get on the road to Net Zero next year, please get in touch with one of the team members, who’ll be with you at every step of the journey. You can reach us here