Thursday 15th June marks Clean Air Day 2023, a campaign delivered throughout the UK to focus attention on air pollution. Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, with between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year attributed to long-term exposure (GOV.UK). As individuals and businesses, it is crucial that we each play our part in reducing air pollution to deliver positive change.
It is reported that 93% of UK SMEs agree sustainability challenges are important, but 46% identify insufficient budget and high costs as the biggest challenge on the journey to net zero (Lloyds Bank, 2023). Shire Leasing is committed to environmental improvement, both supporting UK SMEs with their transition to net zero as well as making our changes in our own business to improve energy efficiencies. On Clean Air Day 2023, we reflect on some of the key projects and initiatives that we have been involved in over the past year.
Driving Clean Air
It’s reported that commuting and business travel together are responsible for almost half of all miles travelled per person in England(Action for Clean Air), which is a major contributor to air pollution. Shire Leasing were instrumental in developing the framework for the UK’s first financial assistance scheme for businesses affected by Clean Air Zones. We work with local authorities to deliver government grants and subsidised interest finance solutions to UK SMEs, enabling non-compliant vehicles to be replaced affordably. In the past year, we have been appointed to more local authority schemes including Bristol, Sheffield and Newcastle and Gateshead. As our Driving Clean Air programme grows, even more businesses are able to access the finance required to make the transition to low/no emission vehicles more affordably, ultimately reducing air pollution in major cities.
Tree For A Lease
Through our partnership with Play It Green, an organisation offering a simple and accessible way to support reforestation whilst lowering carbon footprints, every new lease transaction we fund results in a tree being planted. Simple and immediate action with the aim of making a difference. Since introducing our Tree for a Lease scheme, we have commissioned the planting of over 14,700 trees. That is the equivalent to removing 1,044 tonnes CO2 emissions, or:
🚗 801 cars removed from the road
✈ 9,089 short haul flights
🏘 340 homes annual energy usage
Enhancing Sustainability in The Asset Finance Industry
Environmental improvement and tackling air pollution can’t be done without acting together. In November 2022, our Corporate Development Director, Julie Henehan, joined The Leasing Foundation as a Board member, responsible for the newly introduced Sustainability Initiative, which aims to leverage networks and spheres of influence to accelerate positive change through education, innovation and the sharing of best practice across the industry. Passionate about ESG and sustainability, Julie is also vice chair of the FLA’s Green Finance Group, which discusses green finance policy and other green asset market issues, to help inform the FLA on its invaluable work in these areas.
Funding the change
Shire is committed to supporting UK SMEs with the transition to net zero and have introduced a number of innovative solutions. Our Green Asset proposition makes accessing finance to invest in energy generation, energy efficiency or e-mobility assets simpler and more attainable. This can be anything from solar panels and wind turbines, to LED lighting and energy-efficient HVAC, through to electric vehicles and charging points.
All businesses have a responsibility to act, but we are aware that introducing sustainable changes can be costly. Not only do we have the appetite to fund green assets, we have also launched a ‘Low Start for Low Emissions’ scheme, which supports businesses that want to make the transition into greener assets, where initial costs can be a hurdle. The scheme enables eligible businesses to make greener investments by allowing equipment/assets to be installed and benefitted from, with reduced rentals for up to 6 months to ease the transition.
Last year, we proudly won the ‘Supporting Customer ESG Goals’ award at the Leasing World Customer Service Excellence Awards, recognised for various pioneering initiatives allowing us to deliver flexible business funding solutions to British businesses as an enabler for positive change.
We remain committed to environmental improvement year round, with a focus on achieving positive outcomes for the planet as part of our wider business sustainability strategy. Once Clean Air Day passes, we will continue to raise awareness, take part in important conversations and do our part to deliver positive changes towards tackling air pollution and improving the environment.
Clean Air Day on 15th June is a chance to find out more about air pollution, share information on how to reduce it and discover the practical things that we can all can do to help make a difference. Learn more here: www.cleanairhub.org.uk.