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Majority of small businesses fail to act on carbon emissions

As the COP26 climate change conference takes place in Glasgow, a new study has found that 76% of the UK’s small businesses have failed to reduce their carbon emissions.

And according to the research by the British Business Bank (BBB), more than half of businesses surveyed (54%) said they were not ready to prioritise going carbon neutral, with 35% citing cost as a barrier to change.

However, 94% of small businesses said they had taken at least one action to reduce their emissions, though the report said they tended to be straightforward ones, such as installing a smart meter.

It found that small firms account for half of greenhouse gas emissions generated by all UK businesses, representing 30% of all UK emissions, including households, industry and Government. Just 3% of small businesses said they had measured their carbon footprint in the past five years and set an emissions reduction target as a result.

BBB CEO Catherine Lewis La Torre said: “More than half of smaller businesses say they’re not ready to prioritise decarbonisation, so clearly more needs to be done.”

The BBB surveyed 1,200 smaller businesses for its ‘Smaller businesses and the transition to net zero’ report, which can be found here.

The government has set a national target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Making the case for sustainability

Once thought to be opposing goals, sustainability and financial success now go hand-in-hand for many businesses. 

Harvard Business School has identified eight reasons why ‘going green’ could benefit your firm:

  • Drives innovation
  • Improves energy security
  • Attracts and retains employees
  • Expands audience reach and builds brand loyalty
  • Reduces production costs
  • Garners positive publicity
  • Helps you stand out in a competitive market
  • Sets industry trends

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