Local organisations celebrate a year of Oh Yes! Net Zero achievements

Local businesses and organisations are coming together this morning in Hull to celebrate the achievements of the first year of a ground-breaking initiative to reduce the city’s carbon emissions. 

Oh Yes! Net Zero is a collaborative movement of big and small Hull and Humber-based organisations committed to taking action to achieve net zero in Hull, which is crucial if the UK is to meet its net zero target. 

The initiative was established in 2022 by founding partners Reckitt, Hull City Council, Future Humber and the University of Hull and has since attracted more than 150 member organisations who together employ more than 46,500 people. 

As members of the initiative, businesses have had access to tools and knowledge to navigate net zero policy and empower them to take steps towards achieving net zero, through expert advice, workshops and opportunities to collaborate with and learn from each other. 

A recent survey of members showed that about 70% of respondents already have a carbon reduction plan in place, while five members have together invested £150m in climate change initiatives. As part of the campaign 16,000 school pupils in Hull have also been given access to a “Climate Changemakers” programme. 

Today’s event at Hull Truck Theatre will be hosted by former BBC science editor David Shukman and feature a keynote speech by former Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Rt. Hon. Amber Rudd. 

During the event Oh Yes! Net Zero members will hear about the successes achieved and lessons learnt during the first year of the campaign, including from leaders and employees at local holiday home manufacturer Willerby and packaging firm Springfield Solutions. 

Crucially, attendees will also take part in workshops hosted by representatives from Aura Innovation Centre, BACB Renewables, C3 Group, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Hull City Council and Springfield Solutions, where they will gain valuable insights and knowledge to kickstart or progress their net zero plans.

Willerby chief financial officer Sue Allan said: “We share our customers’ commitment to helping protect the planet, and sustainability is central to our business. We have made strong progress in reducing our carbon footprint, with biomass boilers to convert waste wood into renewable energy for use in our factory, and have begun switching our fleet of vehicles to electric or hybrid models.

“Last September we took an important step further, introducing the Willerby GreEN Standard, an industry-leading sustainability specification that cuts the energy consumption of our homes by up to 28 per cent.

She added: “We’re always looking for new measures to help us on our sustainability journey and there’s lots we can learn from other Oh Yes! Net Zero members, at the same time as we share our experience as an environmental leader in our sector. I would encourage any local business that wants practical support and advice on reducing their carbon footprint to join the campaign.”

Councillor Mike Ross, leader of Hull City Council, said: “Oh Yes! Net Zero is playing a vital part in enabling the private and public sectors to come together, learn from each other’s experiences and develop carbon reduction solutions. Being part of a business-led initiative is important for the council and helps ensure that, in our ‘place-making’ role, we provide the green infrastructure to genuinely support businesses and residents. 

“Understanding the needs of the community and local organisations as we move to net zero will ensure a thriving green economy ready for the future.”

Dr Bruce Charlesworth, chief medical officer at Reckitt and the lead at Reckitt’s Hull Campus, said: “The first year of the Oh Yes! Net Zero campaign has lessons that will help other cities both in the UK and across the world in their efforts to achieve their net zero ambitions. 

“Leading the way on decarbonisation will help Hull and the Humber flourish through new jobs in a green economy, lower energy bills and cleaner air. At Reckitt we’re looking forward to continuing to play our part in supporting more local organisations to make real progress towards net zero.”

A report published last week highlighted the achievements of the first year of Oh Yes! Net Zero at a House of Commons reception hosted by Hull West and Hessle MP Emma Hardy and attended by key national and local climate change policy experts, representatives from Oh Yes! Net Zero members and other MPs including Rt Hon Sir Alok Sharma, COP26 President. 

The report, ‘Delivering Net Zero for Hull’, shares the progress the initiative has made and the experiences of Oh Yes! Net Zero members in reducing their carbon emissions. 

Oh Yes! Net Zero has the support of cross-party political stakeholders and its achievements have been welcomed by Hull’s MPs.

Emma Hardy said: “Local public-private collaboration is fundamental to delivering a net zero future and Oh Yes! Net Zero shows that when businesses and organisations work together, real change is possible. 

“The business leadership from the member companies is vital to delivering this transformation in Hull, and I look forward to continuing to work with Oh Yes! Net Zero to deliver a new green economy for our city.”

Rt Hon Dame Diana Johnson, MP for Hull North, said: “Addressing climate change requires a cross-economy approach, with businesses of all sectors and sizes working in tandem to make progress. 

“Oh Yes! Net Zero is the perfect demonstration of this in practice, showing how businesses in Hull are taking the lead to galvanise local action and drive net zero progress and green growth simultaneously.”

Hull East MP Karl Turner said: “I am delighted to see the significant progress Oh Yes! Net Zero has made in the last year in our great city of Hull, with local community programmes driving real progress. 

“The commitment from all the members – from convenor Reckitt to local SMEs – further reinforces my belief that Hull can be one of the first net zero cities, and that this model can be an exemplar for other cities around the UK.”

Organisations and businesses as well as individuals, can join Oh Yes! Net Zero or find out more at www.ohyesnetzero.co.uk