Survey reveals only one in ten UK businesses are shaping strategy for low carbon economy

Posted on

November 3, 2015

Posted in

Cutting CarbonSustainability

A new UK survey reveals this week that only 10% of UK businesses have taken steps to reshape strategy around the low carbon economy.

Aston University Carbon Week logo

The study from Aston University finds that 38% of business leaders “do not see climate change and the transition to a low carbon economy as a concern” and a further 41% regard the challenge as a minor concern.

The study, conducted by YouGov, coincides with the university’s Carbon Week initiative, aimed at helping students acquire skills and knowledge around sustainability to improve their employment prospects.

From the findings, it appears that this knowledge and skills are sorely needed to help galvanise companies across the country into adopting a more active approach to low carbon.

Staff engagement

Corporate responsibility is an evolving element of business culture and it is crucial for firms to give more than a gentle nod in the direction of sustainability in its widest sense.

This should embrace active engagement with staff, who would be essential drivers in any business’s successful transition to low carbon economic status.

Our view is that involving employees is a fast track to success in sustainability. As part of the wider low carbon picture, we help companies with energy audits and action around energy saving – from LED lighting and lighting controls to more efficient pumps and water-saving toilets, taps and showers – can be a base to build staff knowledge and engagement.

It is more than a little shocking that so few businesses appears to have active plans in this area and as the study suggests, it indicates that company managements are “are struggling to adapt to a greener economy, despite their ongoing obligations to do so”.

Climate change

The study shows that while two-thirds of business leaders recognise that their company has an obligation and responsibility around climate change and the shift to a low carbon future, just 7% currently have changed strategic plans.

A third also underline that they are not making any changes “at all”. However, a further 16% do advise that they have plans to make significant changes to strategy.

Professor Dame Julia King, Vice Chancellor of Aston University says:

“It is evident present businesses are not necessarily prepared and equipped to respond to the challenge.

“Through education and career opportunities, we can harness this sense of responsibility to the benefit of both young people and future employers.”

Carbon cuts

In contrast, analysis published this week indicates that big businesses around the globe are actively working to deliver two thirds of the cuts in CO2 emissions needed to meet the 2C warming-limit target.

A report by PwC highlights carbon cutting plans by a group of top companies that could well deliver 65% emissions reductions needed to meet targets.

The report, produced in partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), reviews climate ambitions in nine industries set out by business working groups as part of the WBCSD’s Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative.

The report focuses on actions plans around low-carbon freight, renewables, carbon capture and storage, energy efficiency in buildings, cement, chemicals, low-carbon transport fuels, climate smart agriculture, and forests.

PwC’s analysis embraces 140 businesses, including Kellogg’s, Monsanto, PepsiCo, Shell and Unilever, which held round table meetings to develop the nine industry-specific action plans for emissions reductions after the conclusion of the COP 21 climate talks in Paris from November 30-December 11.

According to PwC, the plans could attract $10 trillion of investment in low carbon sectors over the next 15 years while providing 45 million jobs.

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