76% of small business yet to act on carbon emissions

Small businesses account for 50% of all carbon emissions put out by UK business, and a third of total UK emissions

Three quarters of small businesses have yet to do anything about reducing their carbon emissions, despite the Government’s 2050 net-zero target.

This is despite small businesses accounting for half of greenhouse gas emissions generated by all UK businesses, almost a third (30 per cent) of all UK emissions, including households, industry and Government.

Just 3 per cent of small businesses surveyed by the state-owned British Business Bank say they have measured their carbon footprint in the past five years and subsequently set an emissions reduction target.

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More than half of businesses surveyed (54 per cent) said they were not ready to prioritise going carbon neutral.

Over a third of small businesses (35 per cent) cited cost as a barrier to reducing emissions and going carbon neutral.

However, 94 per cent of small businesses said they had taken at least one action to reduce their emissions, though the report said they tended to be low-effort once, such as installing a smart meter.

The research highlights the scale of the challenge in persuading smaller firms to cut their carbon footprint.

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A separate recent report from NatWest found that small and medium-sized companies had the potential to meet half of the UK’s decarbonisation goal, “if they receive the right support through funding, knowledge and training”.

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

Small Business Minister Paul Scully added: “Small businesses need to be front and centre in our national effort to reduce emissions.”

The BBB surveyed 1,200 smaller businesses for its Smaller businesses and the transition to net zero report.

Further reading

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...

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  1. I like you are making small business aware of these stats, but I think it might have been more helpful to point them towards ways of making improvement.

  2. I would like to make several changes eg solar panels, wind power and alternative power for heat and heating and water

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