Survey shows most firms are heeding climate change warnings – but one-in-five have done nothing

August 12, 2021

Nearly 70% of South West firms see climate change as a core business factor for them, according to a landmark survey of companies’ attitudes to the key issue – but, alarmingly, 21% have so far taken no action despite mounting concern over its impact.

Just under half (46%) of the businesses that consider climate change as important have already started to reduce their carbon emissions and/or environmental impacts, while a further 31% have made smaller changes, such as switching to a renewable energy supplier.

However, the survey, carried out by Business West – the region’s largest business group and the organisation behind the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative – showed significant challenges and barriers remain that are preventing a sizeable minority of firms from joining them.

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

The results of the survey, which sought the views of 475 small and medium-sized businesses across the region, coincided with the latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC), which unequivocally blames human activity for climate  change and warns that some aspects of it, such as rising sea levels, are now irreversible.

Business West said its survey results highlighted 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.

But it added that, in the light of the findings, it was clear that businesses need much more support from the government if the UK is to reach its net zero target by 2050.

The survey showed that businesses believed 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.

Business West head of climate strategy Nina Skubala, pictured, 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.”

As a result, Business West is calling on the government to provide 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 itself carbon neutral and aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030 – the first chamber of commerce in the UK to do so.

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