A landmark survey of business attitudes towards climate change reveals that nearly 70% of South West businesses consider climate change to be a core ‘business issue’.
The results of the survey, 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 smaller scale by switching to a renewable energy supplier for instance. 21% of businesses said that they have not done anything at all.
Despite the enthusiasm among businesses to take action on climate change, significant challenges and barriers remain that prevent them from doing so, according to the survey.
Cost was the most commonly cited barrier, with 28% 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.
Responding to the survey findings, Nina Skubala Head of Climate Strategy at Business West says:
“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.”
Business West is carbon neutral and aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030 - the first Chamber of Commerce in the UK to do so. To find out more about our journey to net zero and how we are working to accelerate the decarbonisation of businesses in our region visit our Trading to Net Zero hub.