Research published in August 2021 by the British Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with O2, found that only one in ten (11%) responding businesses, of more than 1,000 surveyed in the UK, are measuring their carbon footprint.
This falls to 9% for small businesses, and 5% for microbusinesses, with fewer than 10 employees. By contrast 26% of larger firms, with more than 50 employees, are measuring their footprint.
The research also showed only one in seven (13%) have set targets to reduce their emissions – down from one in five (21%) when firms were surveyed before the pandemic in February 2020.
In addition, almost two thirds (64%) of businesses surveyed say they don’t see net zero targets as a high priority in the wake of the pandemic, although half (49%) admit their customers are worried about the environment.
The findings also show that one in five businesses (22%) don’t fully understand the term ‘net zero,’ and almost a third have yet to seek advice or information to help them develop a net zero roadmap or improve their environmental sustainability.
With the impacts of the pandemic and other priorities weighing heavily on small- and medium-sized businesses, the research found that smaller firms were far more likely to be behind on climate action.
When it came to setting carbon reduction targets, 27% of larger firms have done so, compared to just 9% of microbusinesses.
Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the BCC, commented: “This research is a real eye-opener and shows just how big a challenge the UK’s net zero target is.
“Climate change is something that affects every single one of us and businesses have a big part to play in tackling it. But the Government must also recognise that smaller firms will need access to grants, subsidies and other financial support to help them take effective steps on the journey to a greener future.”