88% of firms need support with net zero

Research shows that less than a third of UK businesses have a strategy for reaching net zero emissions, with many feeling overwhelmed by the steps ahead of them and the specific data needed.

Posted on 27 January 2022

Research shows that less than a third of UK businesses have a strategy for reaching net zero emissions, with many feeling overwhelmed by the steps ahead of them and the specific data needed.

According to a recent YouGov survey of over 1,000 senior UK decision makers, only 29 per cent have a strategy for reaching net zero, with the proportion rising to 52 per cent for larger companies with 250+ employees.

Of those with a net zero strategy, just over half (56 per cent) have set a specific budget for it. Environmental concern was the biggest driver for meeting their carbon targets (72 per cent), followed by fears over their corporate reputation (60 per cent). Only 12 per cent said they did not need any external support to achieve their goals.

Overall, however, around two fifths (42 per cent) of respondents said they felt overwhelmed by the steps they need to take to reach net zero.

Missing data

One of the key areas of concern is difficulties understanding what data is needed. A separate study by the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) found that just over a third (35 per cent) of UK firms with net zero goals are yet to gain access to the data they need to track progress. More than a tenth (12 per cent) still had no baseline figures, leaving them open to accusations of greenwashing.

This problem has been exacerbated by COVID-19, which may have caused hidden rises in environmental impact. For example, the shift many consumer-facing businesses made to online sales during the pandemic has resulted in additional transport, packaging and warehousing needs, with the associated environmental impacts they bring.

Research by supply chain consultancy Scala suggests that only 18 per cent of consumer product businesses have accurate measures in place to monitor this ‘hidden environmental pandemic’.

‘Golden thread’

Duncan Edward, head of new business and partnerships at Inenco Group, which supported IWFM’s research, said: “The proportion of organisations that still lack the baseline data for their carbon footprint, clear objectives and a roadmap and strategy describing how the targets will be met, remains concerning.

“Many organisations still need to create a “golden thread” that links [their] board’s aspirations to a detailed plan supported by clear accountability and allocated budget supported by the appropriately skilled resource to ensure its achievement.”

The Growth Hub’s fully-funded Journey to Net Zero programme is specifically designed to help Greater Manchester SMEs understand what net zero means for them, what data they require and how to develop a successful strategy.

Posted under General Interest on 27 January 2022