AN organisation dedicated to connecting and supporting businesses across the North-East has launched a programme to help firms develop and deliver climate change-focused projects on the backdrop of Covid-19.

The Innovation SuperNetwork has launched a new accelerator programme in response to the impact of coronavirus on climate change.

The accelerator hopes to bring solutions to market that will support the region’s commitment to tackling the damage of climate change to people, communities and the economy.

The programme has a particular focus on electric vehicle adoption, home deliveries, home working and public transport.

This focus is informed by research, which found after 67 per cent of those surveyed expected the carbon footprint of their working lives to reduce, while just 41 per cent expected to see the same reduction at home due. This is due to an increase in bills like greater energy consumption.

SuperNetwork chief executive Simon Green said: “The public response to the coronavirus crisis has over the last few months led to a drop in harmful emissions, and as 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 efforts to tackle 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, which wouldn’t necessarily be offset by those working from home.

"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."

The findings highlight great potential for firms looking at electric vehicles and cycling, while ride-sharing initiatives could be updated to ease people's concerns and traffic management software to optimise parking for deliveries could be developed.

Mr Green added: “Studies already suggest environmental gains seen over the last few months will be short-lived with efforts to reduce harmful emissions unlikely to reach its target to keep global warming below 1.5°.

"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.

"This ambitious accelerator for North-East companies will deliver a substantial online programme of support and opportunity for collaboration.”

The accelerator will run a series of virtual design sprints with an initial meeting planned for Tuesday, July 14.

This will bring experts and businesses together to better understand climate change and coronavirus while looking at the opportunities to begin developing solutions.

The accelerator will support 15 projects by North-East businesses, who will receive one-to-one support, including help developing product and business plans, raising finance, marketing, financial management and legal advice.