Many local businesses lack the resources to act on climate change, finds survey

By Nick Batten on 12 August, 2021

A landmark survey of business attitudes towards climate change has revealed that while nearly 70% of  businesses in the West of England consider climate change to be a core ‘business issue,’ many feel that they lack the resources to act on the crisis.

The results of the Business West Quarterly Economic Survey [Q2], which sought the views of 429 SMEs, highlights not only the pressing need to take action to combat climate change, but also the growing realisation among businesses of their role and responsibility in tackling climate change in the coming years.

Of the businesses that consider climate change an important issue, 46% have already implemented plans and processes to reduce their carbon emissions and/or environmental impacts, whereas 31% have done so but at a smaller scale by switching to a renewable energy supplier. 21% of businesses said that they have not done anything at all.

The survey found that, despite the enthusiasm among businesses to take action on climate change, significant challenges and barriers remain that prevent them from doing so.

Cost was the most commonly cited barrier, with 28% of businesses saying that they lacked sufficient funds to decarbonise their operations through investing in ultra-low emissions vehicles for example. This was followed by competing priorities (26%), a lack of knowledge and changing policies and regulations (24% respectively) as the most common barriers to achieving net-zero.

In light of these findings, it is clear that businesses need much more support from the government if the UK is to reach its net-zero target by 2050. Businesses indicated that access to finance (34%), greater clarity on policy and regulations (29%) and improved accessibility of general advice (26%) would be key in enabling them to cut carbon emissions into the future.

Nina Skubala, Head of Climate Strategy at Business West, said, “Climate change is a defining issue of our time and businesses now know that they can make a pivotal contribution towards the rapid transitions required to overcome the challenges that it poses.

“However, without a ramping up of support, businesses fear that they lack the knowledge and resources to be able to do their bit and get to grips with the climate crisis. This needs to change and efforts to decarbonise our economy need to be significantly accelerated.

“Against this background, we are calling on the government to commit to providing further support to business communities to empower them to prepare and adapt to meet the challenges of climate change and aid the transition to a sustainable and resilient regional economy.”

Click here to view the full report.