The results suggested that 67% of individuals thought the carbon footprint of their working lives would fall, however just 41% expected to see the same reduction at home - both linked to an increase in home working, which for many looks set to continue. The survey also raised concerns that for those unable to work from home, reduced capacity on public transport and an unwillingness to car share might lead to an increase in carbon emissions, which wouldn't be offset by home working.
Simon Green, CEO at the SuperNetwork, explained “The public response to the Coronavirus crisis has over the last few months led to a drop in harmful emissions, and though our survey suggests an increase in home working has the potential to become a regular feature of our working lives, there is a risk that there could be an overall increase in carbon emissions, which would negatively impact the region’s efforts in tackling the climate emergency.
“For instance, as those who can’t work from home return to the workplace, a reluctance to use public transport or car share could see an increase in commuter traffic on the road. More home deliveries could also see more traffic contributing harmful emissions and congestion in residential areas. Likewise, a resultant economic downturn could leave businesses and individuals in a financial bind where they’re less able to invest in energy saving measures and equipment.
“Recent studies are already suggesting the environmental gains seen over the last few months, as a result of lockdown measures globally, will be short-lived with international efforts to reduce harmful emissions unlikely to reach its target to keep global warming below 1.5° by 2050. In fact a combination of behavioural outcomes following the virus could go on to have devastating environmental impact and we need to act now to ensure we mitigate these risks.”
Despite all of this, there is an opportunity for individuals and businesses in the region to come to the fore in helping to tackle the climate emergency with a green recovery to Coronavirus. The SuperNetwork has launched an accelerator programme to help start those conversations and encourage an innovative response to the issues raised. It seeks to bring solutions to market that will support the region’s commitment to tackling the long-lasting damage of climate change to people, communities and the economy against the backdrop of COVID-19.
Simon added: “Our usual model is to bring people together to tackle issues like these through open innovation and collaboration. While we remain committed to this, we too have had to think innovatively about how we can continue to support companies in their goal to bring brilliant ideas to market. This ambitious accelerator for North East companies will deliver a substantial online programme of support and opportunity for collaboration.”
A series of design sprints have been developed, with each online event bringing experts and businesses together to better understand the problem and the opportunities to begin developing solutions.
The accelerator seeks to support the launch of 15 new products or services by North East businesses. Each business will receive one-to-one support, including help developing product and business plans, raising finance, marketing, financial management and legal advice.