Gearing up for the full low-carbon to net-zero journey

A new brand, reputation, and super-sized hub for the huge task ahead. The world’s environmental and energy prospects may look bleak. But there is also optimism as Lancashire starts to design and deliver the innovative minimum-carbon solutions that international markets need urgently.

Welcome to our redesigned and refurbished low carbon hub where from June 2022 integrated advice, consultancy, and advanced commercial support can all be found under one friendly roof.

We are now open for serious business in a new extremely proactive partnership formed by the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce’s Low Carbon Programme (CLC) and pioneering RedCAT project ( to close the gap between innovation and successful commercialisation.

As a result, our doors are physically open for anyone keen to cut their carbon footprint, prototype new ideas, or take breakthrough technologies to growing markets, to come and talk to us in-person.

But after two years of remote restrictions, the hub at the East Lancashire Chamber’s Red Rose Court headquarters in Accrington now includes unique and much-needed ‘hot desk’ co-working opportunities – but with some Covid safety measures still firmly in place!

An important precaution arriving visitors will notice is that registration at reception includes not only name, date, and time details, but also recorded body temperature – you can never be too careful!

A brand-new brand

The changes mean the hub can now offer a twin-track journey. The first is an extension of CLC’s now well-established energy-efficiency programme that moves businesses from high-carbon fossil-fuel use to low-carbon, net-zero, and eventually zero-carbon working.

However, companies with a strong commercial potential can then join RedCAT on a wider journey to overcome the tough technical, environmental, communication, marketing – but also very importantly financial – challenges involved in breaking successfully into competitive global markets.

After starting life in 2018 with EU-funded, and recently winning international recognition for its one-stop-shop-low-carbon brand, CLC has been approached to join several global low carbon initiatives.

However, its local goal is to take hundreds of firms, inventers and entrepreneurs through the UK’s low carbon and net-zero transition with maximum support and as little pain as possible.

Positive changes at a troubling time

Since 2020, the CLC programme has been largely limited to online events and consultancy.

Now, in the current ‘living despite Covid’ environment, long-planned changes are being implemented at a critical point where banishing human-made greenhouse gases emissions and beating climate change are more important than ever.

The Met Office warned in May that we now have a 48% chance by 2026 of breaching the 1.5°C temperature rise threshold set in the Paris climate agreement, albeit temporarily (

But there are concerns about the overall direction of temperatures, given that they only rose 1.00C above the 19th century pre-industrial average in 2015 – the year the Paris agreement was signed.

Absolutely last change warning

In April 2022, the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also released the third of its gloomy global warming reports – “Mitigation of Climate Change which looked at practical ways to avoid severe climate change damage (

This followed just weeks after a second in the IPCC series – “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” ( which pinpointed causes and impacts of global warming.

The authors warn the world has until 2025 to pass ‘peak’ greenhouse gas emissions and keep permanent temperature rises down to 1.50C this century. Otherwise, UN general secretary António Guterres says we risk creating a world that is ‘unliveable’.

Ministers are also reported to have ‘brainstormed’ solutions in May for the cost-of-living crisis, and long-term plans to increase the UK’s secure energy mix.

However, there was widespread disappointment that realistic steps to increase energy-efficiency were not discussed formally – which is a natural entry point for the CLC programme!

The new low carbon and RedCAT journey

What visitors and clients will now experience at Red Rose Court is a powerful combination of offerings from CLC and RedCAT – which is also a partial-brainchild of the Chamber.

The CLC programme itself is split into ‘green’ and ‘blue’ activity streams.

Green provides advice and support to reduce carbon footprints, move to low-carbon renewables, and make the most of rapidly evolving low-carbon technologies.

Blue meanwhile focuses on the first stages of developing promising technical and business ideas that could be in demand in tough competitive markets.

RedCAT will then take selected candidates through the difficult step of securing development funding, with additional technical support and expert advice on training skilled staff, sourcing suitable admin, laboratory, and manufacturing space – and reaching out to unfamiliar marketplaces.

Graphic journey

The hub itself is also designed to be a low-carbon champion, with carefully separated and recycled waste streams, LED lighting, energy-efficient office equipment, and will include electric vehicle (EV) charging bays. It includes a seminar room, consultancy space, project meeting rooms, and support services.

The low-carbon journey is also shown graphically in wall displays, starting with 12th World Chambers Congress in Dubai November 2021 where the CLC programme was one of four finalists.

Up against tough competition from the Dublin Chamber of Commerce (Ireland), the Eskisehir Chamber of Industry (Turkey), and the Voka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Belgium), the CLC entry went on to win.

Each finalist had 4.5 minutes to present their project before facing six minutes of questioning from the panel. The international audience then voted on who was the winner – so we were judged by our peers around the world.

Crucially, the CLC team did not fly to Dubai! In keeping with the low-carbon message, a streamed video presentation was made to the judges led by Chamber CEO Miranda Barker who is also RedCAT’s CEO.

The CLC entry was commended for integrating the separate offers made by the other candidates within a single service, plus the experience, age, gender, and ethnic diversity of its Lancashire-based experts.

A very welcome cash prize has also paid for the new Red Rose Court EV charging bays!

International contacts

During the pandemic, the CLC programme’s online Lunch & Learn events drew a worldwide audience. Another important global link that is beginning to pay dividends is the British Chamber of Commerce net-zero and low-carbon campaign.

Abuja Chamber of Commerce and the University of Istanbul have both contacted us to work with them. No funding bid has been successful so far. However, we remain in contact and are looking for other opportunities.

Slovenian invitation

Stephen Sykes, as Director of Sustainability for the Chamber and its CLC programme, has also just returned from Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, at the invitation of the British Chambers of Commerce Slovenia where he spoke at one of a “Tea with Reason” series of events entitled “Rethinking Climate Goals”.

While there, he also met the British Chambers of Commerce Slovenia, the Slovenia Chamber of Commerce, and separately the Chamber of Craft and Small Business of Slovenia, to discuss potential collaboration projects.

Once again it is a matter of please watch this global space!

Moving to RedCAT

Stepping through from the CLC programme section at Red Rose Court into the RedCAT co-working hot desk space is easy physically. However, being selected as a RedCAT hot prospect is more difficult.

In an internal version of “The Dragon’s Den”, applicants must make a convincing technical and commercial case to a tough-minded selection panel.

This comprises Miranda, Stephen, RedCAT MD Stuart Thompson, and Ged Heffernan as RedCAT co-founder and River Power Pod inventor (

Even with a strong business case, applicants still have to answer the $64,000 question of “does anybody actually want this product of service?” Life can be hard.

Wider low carbon responsibilities

RedCAT is now central to the present and long-term future of the low carbon programme beyond its initial EU-funded five-year brief. However, it is not the only component.

CLC is also committed to delivering the UK Community Renewal Fund in Blackburn and Darwen, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale (

The team also works closely with larger Chamber members not classified as SMEs that are equally keen to minimise their carbon footprints and reach net-zero. Many are in manufacturing and engineering. But an important component is local colleges.

Meet the extended team

Stephen Sykes has managed and guiding the CLC programme since it started in 2018 and believes strongly that the only way to tackle mounting climate and ecological challenges is through collaboration that leads to real results for people, planet, and prosperity.

Many people will also already know Darren Thomas (Programme Supply Chain Manager), Chris Gibbons (Energy & Environmental Advisor), and Omonor Gladys (Energy & Environmental Advisor)

In June we look forward to welcoming Debbie Treadwell (Marketing Officer (East Lancs) back from maternity leave.

However, we will also be joined by Segun Odeyingbo (Environmental Consultant) and Sobia Khurram (Environmental Consultant) who have worked extensively with UN and World Bank and will considerably extend the capabilities of the CLC team.

They will be supported by Clare Scurr (Marketing Officer (North and Western Lancs), Neha Sahail (Administrative Assistant), and Kelly McGrane (Finance Assistant).

Additional RedCAT support

Successful RedCAT candidates will retain their access to CLC consultants, but with additional professional guidance and advice from RedCAT’s own strong team.

MD Stuart Thompson is an internationally experienced director who helps CEOs and boards build, value and create successful companies. He brings extensive experience from multiple sectors, including energy, digital, telecommunications and manufacturing. Stuart also specialises in raising investment, strategy, sales and marketing, and the commercialisation of low carbon technology.

Nicola Greenhalgh will manage the project and programme journey of portfolio businesses through their RedCAT experience on a day-to-day basis. This includes relationships between investors and investees, information and data governance, as well as policing grant expenditure and the good delivery of services from RedCAT’s consultant database and other partners to portfolio companies.

Jamie Parker Jarvis specialises in social and public policy; he helps businesses to conduct market and technology research. His work involves research, analysis, and consultation on net zero policy, plus understanding regulatory changes, new legislation, and policy consequences of political shifts. He also helps RedCAT portfolio companies access public funding for product and market development.

And that, as they say, is your team. Any questions?