Many small businesses are now eager to reduce their carbon emissions, become more sustainable, and achieve their net-zero goals. However, they require support and smart policies to aid them, reveals a major new study.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has recently published a new study on climate change, which features recommendations on how to help small companies become more sustainable.
This comes just as the British Business Bank has estimated that smaller businesses are accountable for around one-third of all current UK greenhouse gas emissions and a half of total emissions from UK businesses.
The FSB study interviewed 1,200 small businesses in their survey and found the following:
- 56% of small firms believe the planet is facing a climate crisis but only 36% have a plan to combat it.
- However, many have taken meaningful action, with 67% addressing energy usage.
- Of the businesses which haven’t yet taken action, 24% are worried about the return on investment and 22% say they don’t have enough money to invest in new assets.
- 64% of businesses have increased recycling and 50% have taken steps to reduce waste where possible.
When participants were asked about zero-emission vehicles, 46% believe the extra expense is a barrier to change and 35% say lack of charging points holds them back. One in six (16%) also believe the lack of a second-hand market is a negative.
Over half of small businesses believe grants or low-interest loans would encourage them to become more energy-efficient, while three in ten believe a discount on business rates would be a good incentive.
Following the survey, the FSB is urging the government to:
- Launch a Help to Green Initiative, modelled on Help to Grow, encompassing £5,000 vouchers which businesses could spend on environmental products and services.
- Introduce a scrappage scheme so diesel commercial vehicles could be recycled in exchange for grants for cleaner hybrids.
- Work with Ofgem to establish a taskforce of suppliers, small business landlords, and business groups to agree how to cut energy use in rented premises.
- Lower the capital requirements banks must adhere to when lending to businesses for green improvements.
- Deliver the necessary ZEV charging infrastructure by 2030.
FSB national Mike Cherry has commented: "Adopting sustainable practices on the journey to net-zero is everyone's duty. Small businesses are keen to play their part, but often don't have the resources, deep pockets and dedicated specialists enjoyed by their larger counterparts, so can find identifying and taking the necessary steps a challenge.”
"With world leaders converging on Glasgow for COP, we need much more than a talking shop. This moment must be a catalyst for governments to remove the barriers that are holding small businesses back. If we are to successfully transition to net zero, it'll be through grassroots action, enabled by smart and supportive policies."
A survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD) has also revealed similar findings. In their poll of 600 business leaders, they found:
- Only 28% of directors' organisations measure their carbon impact.
- Just 27% have a "well worked out plan" to reduce their carbon footprint.
- Only 16% have set a date to reach net zero.
- 51% of business leaders believe that it is the role of the government to provide advice to businesses on how to reduce their carbon impact.
Michelle Ovens, the founder of Small Business Britain has said: Now estimated to be responsible for a third of all UK emissions, small businesses must be at the very heart of the nation's response to the climate crisis … Businesses need to see this as an opportunity first and foremost: an opportunity to serve their customers better, an opportunity to move early and have commercial advantage in the sustainable business space, and an opportunity to play a role in making the world a better place.”
"Only by engaging small businesses will the UK meet its net-zero goals. Only by working together will the small business community gain the momentum to play the role they must."
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