Step 2 – Make a Carbon Action Plan

Why make a Carbon Action Plan?

Once you’ve measured your carbon footprint, the next step is to make a Carbon Action Plan.  Having a Carbon Action Plan will help you prioritise your sustainability goals and embed these in your business practice.  It’s a useful reference and monitoring tool for staff and is a helpful way to communicate your commitment to environmental responsibility to your customers, many of whom are now actively seeking out businesses that act sustainably.  And increasingly, funders and business partners may want to check out your sustainability credentials, so it’s an easy way to make sure you’re on the same page as them, too.  When you have your plan in place, regular reviews will help you measure how well you are doing towards your business’ sustainability goals, keeping you on track and positive!

How do I write my plan?

The first step is to understand the current carbon footprint of your business. If you haven’t already done so, we have advice on how to measure your Greenhouse Gas emissions on our business pages.   

Evaluate and understand where your carbon emissions come from.  Depending on your business activities, some things you do will have a far greater carbon impact than others.   Work out where your business is carbon-heavy and what you can do to reduce your emissions.  Make these can-do actions the basis of your Carbon Action Plan.

Identify key goals for your business going forward.  Remember that the UK has committed to reaching net zero by 2050 and you may want to use this as a benchmark or even take a more ambitious route.  You might want to make the SME Climate Commitment, an internationally recognised public commitment to:

  • Reach net zero by 2050
  • Halve your emissions by 2030
  • Report on your progress every year.

Find out more here. 

Be ambitious, but realistic in setting targets.  Consider the financial and manpower costs of making changes.  Choose SMART objectives, which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.

Work out what actions are needed to achieve your targets and allocate responsibility for them.  Include your staff and key partners like your suppliers in this process if possible.  Prioritise your list of possible actions and identify which ones you will take forward.  Embed these actions in your wider business plan.

As you begin your sustainability journey, think about whether there are any “quick wins” that can make an immediate difference and inspire your business towards a more sustainable future.   We’ve created a list of quick and low/no cost changes every business can make today, inspired by our Changemaker Champions, businesses who are already demonstrating innovative best practices in East Devon. 

Communicate with your staff.  They will have a key role in bringing about positive change and advocating for it more widely.  Time taken to bring staff with you on your journey will be well worth it; studies report higher levels of staff job satisfaction in businesses with a strong and well communicated environmental ethos.

Spread the word.  Let your customers know about your Carbon Action Plan by putting it on your website and displaying it on your premises.  Remember that by promoting environmentally responsible tourism you are helping to cement our local reputation for being an innovator in Green Tourism.  Our Changemaker Champion Higher Wiscombe has taken an engaging and impactful approach to telling visitors about their eco-credentials in the A-Z of Higher Wiscombe video, here

Review your progress and your Carbon Action Plan, making sure you are keeping on track and responding to changing circumstances.  And remember that even small changes, taken together, can add up to a huge difference.

What if I want to do more?

Become a leader in environmentally responsible tourism by adopting the Glasgow Declaration, produced by the UN World Tourism Organisation as part of COP26.  By measuring your carbon footprint and making a commitment to decarbonise, you have already embarked on two of the five key pathways towards this ambitious industry leading initiative.  You can find out more about the Glasgow Declaration here

VisitScotland, the first UK DMO to sign the Glasgow Declaration has produced this great guide to making a Carbon Action Plan: Visit Scotland – Create a Climate Action Plan here. 

Tell us about your Carbon Action Plan – we’d love to share your experience and use it to inspire other businesses.  You might choose to share your Action Plan with us, so that we can share it with others.  If you’re a Visit member, you can also benefit from additional promotional opportunities for our Changemakers and work towards Changemaker Champion accreditation.

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Additional Support

Starting in Spring 2024, East Devon District Council will be providing specialist on-hand support to help your business or community organisation in reducing its carbon emissions, with training and help in writing Carbon Action Plans available.  More details will appear here. Additional funding will be available from Autumn 2024 to support businesses with purchasing decarbonisation equipment.

Prosper, the new business support service for East Devon, Exeter, and Mid Devon, offers various support to SMEs, including personalised support for businesses looking to achieve net zero goals.  You can contact them here.