1 in 5 UK businesses are prioritising cutting emissions

One in five (20%) businesses in the UK are prioritising reducing carbon emissions, says the Net Zero Barometer Report from the British Standards Institution (BSI). 

However, almost half of senior decision makers are prioritising growth for their organisation and only 21% of those polled were aware of what net zero targets mean for their business. 

For many business leaders, the net-zero transition is difficult to consider as they try to recover from the pandemic and address supply chain issues, inflationary pressures and labour shortages. 

A serious gap between ambitions and priorities was discovered, as 71% of those surveyed had set targets to meet net-zero and 78% believed it to be possible to reach these goals post-COP26. 

This is a big increase from last year’s report from the BSI which saw only 40% of organisations have net-zero plans, with 31% ‘considering’ implementing them. 

Despite this change, cost still blocks many organisations from acting on their ambitions, as almost half (45%) of business leaders cited cost as a barrier.

Other problems mentioned included supply chain issues (29%) and regulations (25%). 

man writing on paper

The report, which surveyed 1,000 senior decision makers and sustainability professionals, also found two-thirds say they have accelerated efforts to reach net-zero after the pandemic. 

Three-quarters said they were keen to collaborate with others and to learn more about how they can reach targets. 

Scott Steedman, Director-General for Standards at BSI, said: ‘There is a big risk that industry overlooks the net zero transition in their quest for economic growth or even simply business survival. 

‘These pressures could easily create an either/or narrative for both businesses and consumers, a choice between cutting costs or cutting carbon. However, the evidence suggests businesses can do both, cut costs and cut carbon, and international standards are a prime tool to achieve this. 

‘As businesses become more efficient and self-sustaining, they become more resilient and their exposure to global events, whether supply chain uncertainty or energy prices, is lessened. Acting to address their social responsibilities will help to boost recruitment and retention. Collaborative working with other organisations can help reduce the cost of the net zero transition. Fundamentally, businesses should take a strategic view of the opportunities for growth and cost-savings that will come from building a decarbonized, sustainable organisation. Net zero is a huge challenge, but also a huge opportunity.’

Photo by Scott Graham


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