The British government must undertake a comprehensive evaluation of its assistance and guidance provided to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) regarding the transition to net zero, according to a research report jointly conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Lloyds Bank.
The report emphasises the necessity for the government to display unwavering dedication and consistency in its net zero ambitions.
Larger corporations and institutions should persist in influencing positive changes in behaviour within their supply chains.
These three principal suggestions stem from an extensive six-month investigation carried out by the BCC and Lloyds Bank, delving into the factors inhibiting businesses from achieving net zero goals, as stated in a joint press release.
The ’Climate Call to Action Research Report’ follows a previous BCC survey encompassing over 1,000 businesses, with 96 percent being SMEs.
The survey revealed that a staggering nine out of ten businesses fail to completely comprehend the implications of the government’s objective to achieve net zero by 2050.
Significant disparities emerged between businesses with more than 50 employees and those with fewer than 50, in terms of comprehension and progress.
Specifically, 56 percent of larger firms exhibited a ‘complete’ or ’partial understanding’ of the net zero target, in contrast to a mere 35 percent of smaller enterprises.
The study also highlighted that planning for future skills necessary to facilitate the shift toward more eco-friendly and sustainable operations has been sidelined.
A meagre 4 percent of businesses have conducted a written evaluation of the green jobs or skills required in-house over the next decade.
Around 21 percent of businesses believed that, on balance, green technology would negatively impact their productivity, whereas only 10 percent anticipated a positive effect.
Nevertheless, the survey unveiled that most companies were integrating new technologies and adopting greener policies, even if their overall grasp of achieving net zero was incomplete.
Among SMEs, several environmentally-conscious practices were identified. Notably, 69 percent had implemented LED lighting, 34 percent were investing in environmentally-friendly vehicles, 30 percent were utilising solar panels, 46 percent were involved in recycling and waste reduction, and 28 percent were utilising renewable energy sources.
Responding to the findings, the BCC and Lloyds Bank brought together businesses from various chambers across the UK to scrutinise the necessary alterations to realign the path toward net zero.
An absence of uniformity in government actions and messaging was identified as a significant hindrance for many smaller businesses, particularly concerning concerns over costs and apprehensions about making incorrect technological choices.
“SMEs constitute the backbone of the UK economy and will play a pivotal role in our sustainable transition. Despite facing external challenges and pressures related to cost, time, and resources, our research in collaboration with the BCC indicates that businesses are taking strides towards net zero, especially in instances where the commercial advantages are more evident, such as reducing energy consumption to lower costs,” commented Paul Gordon, Managing Director of Relationship Management at Lloyds Bank.
“Larger corporations should assist smaller businesses within their supply chains in initiating their journey toward net zero. Most importantly, the government must formulate a long-term strategy that it can consistently adhere to. This entails supporting the development and investment in the essential infrastructure and skills required to realise net zero objectives,” added Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC.
These knowledge gaps are detrimental to the longevity and success of UK businesses. The findings of the report are of great concern, and only validate and increase the sense of urgency linked to our mission at ClearVUE.Business.
‘21 percent of businesses believed that, on balance, green technology would negatively impact their productivity, whereas only 10 percent anticipated a positive effect’ – this statistic has a ripple effect with catastrophic consequences. It is a spanner in the cogs of progress.
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