Urgent action needed for a Net Zero hospitality sector, says new report

Urgent action needed for a Net Zero hospitality sector, says new report

The British hospitality industry has a steep hill to climb to make the transition to a low-carbon economy and businesses, governments, and investors must help speed up change, according to a new industry report out today.  

The hospitality sector is responsible for up to 15% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions1 and the Race to Net Zero report finds that the convergence of multiple externalities - Covid, Brexit, persistent high inflation, high energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis – is hampering the industry’s ability to invest in Net Zero. 

Hospitality industry leaders gathered in central London on 28 June to discuss the Race to Net Zero report. Of 42 hospitality leaders surveyed, 59.5% said Net Zero is central to how they want to do business, and a further 33% said it was important to their business.  Over 40% want to see more collaboration across the industry to meet the challenges of going Net Zero, 30% want more government funding in the form of schemes, grants or tax incentives and 10% want more regulation.  

Funded by a collective of hospitality companies with a shared commitment to climate action, the report identifies key needs for businesses in the sector: a better understanding of the commercial case for Net Zero; greater allocation of capital to Net Zero investments; and better collaboration across the value chain. It highlights that a significant amount of emissions reductions can be achieved by implementing quick wins like energy efficiency and waste reduction. It highlights resources that venues can easily access, including the Sustainable Restaurant Association, Zero Carbon Forum and the Net Zero Hospitality Initiative.   

The report calls on operators, government & trade bodies, suppliers and investors  to take two key steps each to drive change: 

For operators: 

  • Set Net Zero goals with their teams and stakeholders – this should be the norm to achieve NetZero goals for the industry and the UK economy as whole
  • Collaborate and share best practice to find the best route through each challenge

For government & trade bodies

  • Create government-funded transition grants for investments in foodservice equipment that lowers emissions 
  • Define standardised greenhouse gas calculation methods and reporting requirements for the whole value chain  

From suppliers:

  • Commit to calculation and publication of product emissions to a common standard   
  • Support ‘climate-first’ hospitality businesses with preferential terms of trade 

From investors:

  • Recognise the future value of long-term investments in carbon reduction
  • Provide favourable financial products for climate-first businesses 

The research team spoke to a wide range of hospitality businesses and their suppliers, including Mitchells & Butlers, Greene King, Peach Pubs Company, Nando’s, The Restaurant Group, Punch Pubs and Pizza Pilgrims, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, and Pernod Ricard UK.   

Hamish Stoddart, founder of Peach Pubs and the architect of the Race to Net Zero collaborative group said: “I opened my first pub shortly after the world’s scientists concluded climate change was man made. 20 years later, emissions are continuing to rise. The UK government has set a Net Zero target for 2050 so the question is not IF hospitality must go Net Zero, but when. There are some bold hospitality businesses pushing forward but we need to do much more, more quickly.  This is a commercial opportunity for the industry to cut costs, attract customers and protect against future regulation.  We must take that opportunity.”

Simon Heppner, Executive Director of Net Zero Now, the climate action and carbon accounting platform, said: “The UK’s pubs, bars and restaurants are at the heart of our communities and conversations, and have an outsize influence in the journey we all need to make to a more sustainable economy.  Net Zero Now launched the Net Zero Hospitality Initiative with Coca-Cola Europacific Partners and Pernod Ricard to make sure all operators in the sector can help tackle climate change and ultimately boost business success. We urge businesses to get on board.” 

Sam Maguire, Sustainability Lead of Clarasys, the Experience Consultancy with a strong presence in sustainability, said: “At Clarasys we believe that a Net Zero society and hospitality industry can only be achieved through systems change, which requires cross-sector collaboration. We are thrilled to have contributed to the Race to Net Zero group by facilitating learning and knowledge sharing between pubs, restaurants and their suppliers, and by producing research on the barriers the industry is facing. Looking forward, our aim is to help organisations achieve sustainable systems change by leveraging our experience in Net Zero, Circular Economy, Impact, Strategy and Change Management."

To download the full report, please visit The Race to Net Zero Report - After The Clouds Foundation.