On 21 February 2024, Sheffield Council’s Economic Development and Skills committee will consider a report about the impact of climate change on the local economy, and the work carried out to-date to address the climate crisis.

The Committee Climate Statement sets out decarbonisation issues affecting business in Sheffield. It notes that in 2021, business and industry in Sheffield was ‘responsible for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions generated in the city’ and that extreme weather events will likely have an impact on local businesses. The report also highlights the potential opportunities that would arise from transitioning to a net zero economy, stating that:

Sheffield has become a pioneer of the green economy in recent years, with the Council and South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority developing green jobs and skills, including the new Investment Zone, which has strengthened our city’s advanced manufacturing and built on the success of the Innovation District in the Lower Don valley. The Climate Statement highlights the Investment Zone and opportunities to maximise clean energy production and green technology sectors through the national investment.

Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

The report also highlights £1.292m of funding that is being used to support Sheffield small- and medium-sized enterprises to improve their energy efficiency through energy audits and grants. SMEs account for 50% of all UK business emissions and will be a key stakeholder in the transition to net zero, yet currently 76% of SMEs do not have comprehensive decarbonisation strategies. Work to support SMEs to become greener will be essential in upcoming years.

The report further highlights a £2.3m fund established to support Sheffield cultural and community organisations to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings. The impact of soaring energy costs on cultural assets has been well documented since the onset of the cost-of-living crisis, with some museums seeing utility bills rise by 300%. Last year saw Sheffield Museums’ annual energy bill double to £505,000, due to the cost of protecting exhibits.

Minesh Parekh, Labour’s lead for Economic Development and Skills, said:

“After the Conservatives crashed our economy and inflicted sky-high energy costs on the nation, it’s right that we should be prioritising energy efficiency measures, to lower energy bills for good.

“Council projects that improve the energy efficiency of SMEs and cultural organisations are helping cut bills right now, and at the same time help us tackle the climate crisis.

“We are doing everything possible to support businesses to decarbonise and save on energy costs. We need a Government willing to meet us in our ambition.”

Labour’s Minesh Parekh (r), with Olivia Blake MP (l) and Cllr Ruth Milsom (m).

Last September, Sheffield City Council endorsed a motion to support small businesses to decarbonise. The motion, proposed by Labour Councillors Minesh Parekh and Ruth Milsom, set out some of the measures that the Council has undertaken to support businesses be greener, including a grants for businesses to invest in energy efficiency measures, and the opportunities for local businesses through the expansion of the district heating network.

It also stated that climate change must be addressed ‘in a way that creates good green jobs’, and that ‘pursuing a decarbonisation agenda will unlock social, economic and climate opportunities.’