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Navigating Fuel-Dependent Businesses Going Green

Climate change has become an unavoidable topic in the last few years, and the government is beginning to push the UK towards a greener and more sustainable future, including creating incentives for businesses going green. However, the pressure to reduce dependence on fossil fuels puts more strain on the many industries that currently rely on it.

As the government unveils plans to reduce fuel dependence, we've got a few tips to offer fuel-dependent businesses to help keep your drivers and fleet ahead of the game during this time of transition.

What is Climate Change?

There are often a lot of buzzwords and technical terms thrown around to do with climate change, and it can be a complex topic. However, the most basic definition of climate change is that the global temperature is experiencing a significant shift, which can have a series of effects from the inconvenient to the disastrous.

Due to the invention and progression of certain technologies and fuels, greenhouse gases (particularly carbon dioxide) are pumped into the air. These trap the heat from the sun and slowly warm the planet.

As the effects of climate change make themselves more apparent, the need to change certain patterns and behaviours is clear. In the UK, 2020 was the first year since records began over a century ago to stand in the top ten for heat, rain and hours of sunshine.

As more studies have been done and climate change has become better understood, many countries have implemented policies to reduce pollution on a national or international scale, with fuel and alternative sources being put under the spotlight.

Why Should Businesses Go Green?

It can be frustrating for fuel-dependent businesses to face the challenges associated with going green, such as the cost of investing in greener technology. However, there are several benefits of going green for a business.

  1. Most importantly, saving the environment is a global issue that requires a global response.

Change on a global level is necessary – according to the Yale Environment Review, the 'point of no return' (after which no amount of aggressive action will stop the global climate from rising more than two degrees and causing potentially irreversible damage to the planet) is in 2035.
This means that aggressive action is needed now, and businesses going green is necessary as everyone needs to commit to adapting to the new standards.

  1. If that wasn't enough to convince you, then think of your customers – according to a study by Deloitte, one in five people have stopped using a certain brand if it doesn't align with their values.

Add that to the fact that 38% of respondents ranked climate change as the number one most important issue to them, and you can clearly see the benefits of going green for a business.

  1. Furthermore, it's not really an option any more.

Governments plans, goals and initiatives are being implemented to encourage or insist that businesses become more environmentally friendly. You can learn more about the UK government's ten-point plan to reach net-zero by 2050 and the effects that could have on your business over on our blog.

What Does Going Green Mean for Businesses?

Okay, so we've established that your business should consider becoming more environmentally friendly (if you aren't already doing so). The question remains, though, how do you do that as a fuel-dependent business?

This can feel particularly daunting for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs); replacing existing machinery or resources with more environmentally-friendly options can potentially be a large expense which many SMEs may struggle to meet. However, SMEs' advantage is their flexibility, which may help them adapt more easily to changing standards and requirements.

The methods of businesses going green vary greatly. However, if large-scale changes aren't feasible right now, even small changes, such as switching out the office light bulbs and letting employees work from home where possible to reduce commutes, can make a significant difference over time.

If you'd like to go greener, but you're not sure where to start, our twelve ways to reduce your business's carbon footprint are a great jumping-off point!

Additionally, many grants and loans are available for businesses going green, including tax reliefs for businesses investing in green technology, support for businesses heated using biomass fuel, and even competitions rewarded by funding. Find more information or contact your local authority to discuss grants and funding in your area.

A UK fuel station at night

The Future of Diesel and Electric Vehicles

There's no denying it – with the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles being banned in less than ten years as part of the government's plan to focus on green resources, the future of diesel looks a little bleak.

Other energy sources are available and being improved upon all the time, including electric vehicles, HVO fuel, biofuel and hybrid vehicles, to name a few. Additionally, as alternative energy sources become more necessary, more studies are being undertaken to set up a more sustainable future.

In contrast to diesel and petrol, it looks like electricity will have a bright future as one of the dominant forms of energy. With more homes and businesses going green, plans are being drawn up to create easier access to electric charge points because electricity is a renewable source of energy and one of the more affordable alternative options to fossil fuels.

What Else Is Changing?

As the plans to reduce carbon emissions start to kick in, we'll start seeing changes across the country and in a range of industries. Notably, as of 2022, there will be changes to the sale and use of rebated gas oil (known as 'red diesel') – see our guide to the red diesel tax change for more information.

This will affect industries from construction to waste management and everything in between. Of course, there are alternatives available, including Superheat35 for heating purposes and Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel, but the disruption will still affect numerous companies.

Additionally, it's worth considering what will happen to petrol stations as the world goes electric. By 2030, there will be substantially fewer vehicles frequenting petrol stations, and by 2040 petrol will be all but moot. As a result, petrol stations will have to adapt quickly if they are to continue to exist, or they'll risk being lost to the history books.

Petrol stations are currently a widely-used, easily-accessible source of fuel. Still, as petrol and diesel become less financially lucrative, it's reasonable to believe access will become more limited.

What Does Going Green Mean for Fleets and the Haulage Industry?

It's the million-dollar question – with all of the changes being put into place, what exactly does all of this mean for fleets and the haulage industry? Many companies within this industry, at the moment, largely rely on petrol or diesel fuel to stay on the road. In fact, currently, fleet vehicles are more likely to be equipped with a diesel engine than passenger vehicles. Ten years after the ban on petrol and diesel for cars and vans, in 2040, a similar ban will come into place for HGVs.

Many fleet managers believe that the haulage industry will be almost completely unrecognisable in the next few years, with a total overhaul needed to continue operations in the new climate. So, it's important to prepare your business before it happens.

A key pre-emptive measure of businesses going green is to remain on top of your current fuel usage. One of the benefits of using fuel cards for your business is that you can track the routes your drivers are taking and where they typically stop to fuel up, and this will put you in a better position as availability changes. Check out our telematics software system and how to use and store fleet data to find out more.

Does the Future of Fleets Look Electric?

As alternative vehicles gain in popularity, you'll need to consider what type of alternative energy your fleet will use which, of course, will depend on what type of transport you require and your budget. In addition, as your business changes or expands, you'll need to consider fleet buying in a changing world and educating your haulage team appropriately.

McKinsey Sustainability estimates that by 2030, fleets of electric vehicles will have a total cost of ownership that is 15 to 25% lower than that of internal combustion engines. Additionally, as electric cars become more popular among domestic users, the availability of electric charging points is set to skyrocket in the coming years.

At Fuelmate, we think electric fleets and businesses going green are great ideas; we've already rolled out our Chargemate payment card, designed to allow you to continue tracking how your vehicles are used using charging point data instead of petrol stations.

So, there you have it – our top tips on navigating going green for fuel-dependent businesses. We know there's a lot to unpack here, and thinking about how much change will happen over the next few years can be overwhelming, but rest assured that here at Fuelmate, we'll be by your side and help you through it every step of the way.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our friendly team today, or have a look at our blog for more fleet management tips.

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