All-Ireland Climate Action Pilot Programme for SMEs

Scope 3 emissions remain by far the most challenging area for meaningful decarbonisation.

We recognise that SMEs play a key role in our member companies’ supply chains making it necessary to support them in integrating sustainability into their operations as, without them, a sustainable transition to a low carbon economy will not be possible. A study by the environmental non-profit CDP says that the ‘combined carbon footprint of SME suppliers is on average five times greater than their large corporate counterparts.’ 

The need for collaboration and partnership across all of business and their supply chains is clear. By building organisational capacity and change to work with SMEs in the supply chains of our members we will create the necessary conditions to achieve the accelerators of change.  

Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) together with our sister organisation in Northern Ireland BITCNI is delighted to announce the launch of our All-Ireland Climate Action Pilot Programme for SMEs with three of our Leader group members, Bank of Ireland, Musgrave, and SSE Airtricity.  

The programme is built on success of Business in the Community Northern Irelands Climate Action Programme and the strategic objectives of the Low Carbon Pledge.  The pilot will deliver a SME supplier engagement programme limited to 10 to 12 SME suppliers of Bank of Ireland, Musgrave, and SSE Airtricity.  

The programme is designed as a pilot with the objective of ‘learning by doing’ to understand better the challenges and opportunities of upskilling SMEs to address Climate Action in Ireland and improve Scope 3 data emissions reporting. SMEs will be supported to take action through a series of in person and online workshops, as well as 1-to-1 mentoring from a BITCI Environmental Advisor. On completion of the programme SMEs will:  

  • Understand how they can address the climate crisis through accredited Carbon Literacy Training. 
  • Know how to measure and update their business carbon footprint.  
  • Plan for the future by developing a climate action plan that’s bespoke to their organisation. 
  • Learn from real-life examples through peer-to-peer and cross-sector collaboration and share learnings.  
  • SMEs across the island of Ireland are well-placed to take commercial advantage of their environmental credentials. 

The programme will officially kick off in April and conclude following a graduation ceremony with a project evaluation report launch at our high profile annual CEO forum on the 10th October. 

We look forward to sharing learning and further updates of the pilot programme.  

The collective commitment of our partners is reflected in the following quotes, which demonstrate their unwavering dedication to collaborate and support SME enterprises in their supply chains to take action on climate change across the island of Ireland.

Business in the Community Northern Ireland: Kieran Harding, Managing Director

“Business in the Community Northern Ireland is delighted to partner with its sister organisation in Ireland for the first all-Ireland Climate Action Programme (CAP).

For the past three years, we’ve closely collaborated with Danske Bank to implement the CAP in Northern Ireland, resulting in significant success in aiding SMEs within the Bank’s value chain to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. We anticipate that organisations partnered with Business in the Community Ireland will experience similar advantages and eagerly anticipate supporting these organisations in their own climate-action endeavours. SSE, Musgrave, and Bank of Ireland recognise the substantial positive impact that can be achieved through their value chains and with stakeholders. Through the Programme, participating businesses will proactively engage in net-zero planning, enhance reporting levels, and bolster capacity-building efforts, facilitating both immediate and long-term climate action delivery”.

Business in the Community Ireland: Bernadette Phelan, Head of Advisory Services

“We know through our membership that addressing Scope 3 emissions is a real challenge. We look forward to working with all partners in this project to upskill, share and innovate together so that jointly companies across the supply chain can lower their emissions. It is only through adopting this collaborative approach that real progress and advantages be garnered. Thanks to SSE, Musgrave and Bank of Ireland and their respective suppliers for their eagerness to be involved and to Business in the Community Northern Ireland for sharing their insights and knowledge from their similar programme”.

SSE Airtricity: Klair Neenan, Managing Director SSE Airtricity

“We are delighted to be involved in this All-Ireland Climate Action pilot programme, allowing us to support our key suppliers on their net zero journey. The energy industry has a significant role to play in educating and informing people about decarbonisation, but we also have a wider responsibility to ensure everyone is brought on the journey to net zero. Climate action is business critical and initiatives like this can have a tangible impact in helping SME’s access supports to build resilience to climate risk”.

Musgraves: Owen Keogh, Head of Sustainability

“At Musgrave we have a long history of working collaboratively with our suppliers through deep and lasting relationships. When it comes to our approach to climate change, collaboration will be central. Now in its 11th year, our Food Academy programme has helped more than 1,000 early-stage food and drink producers from 26 counties to date. We’re proud to be working with Business in the Community Ireland to support our Food Academy suppliers to address the climate change challenges specific to their businesses so that we can support emerging businesses across the Island of Ireland”.

Bank of Ireland: Jilly Clarkin, Head of Customer Journeys & SME Markets at Bank of Ireland

“Bank of Ireland is delighted to join this programme and looks forward to working closely with SMEs embarking on their decarbonisation journey. We are the first Irish bank to set scientifically validated targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By taking part in the All-Ireland Climate Action Plan, we can impart a range of learnings and tangible actions that we have taken so far on our own climate journey and provide SMEs with meaningful supports to help them thrive in this area over time”.