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Small businesses 'vital to UK's carbon plan'

Small businesses 'vital to UK's carbon plan'

Small businesses 'vital to UK's carbon plan'

The UK government's efforts to reduce the country's carbon output and meet its climate obligations could all be for nothing if smaller firms aren't heavily involved in the plan.

That's according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which released a report suggesting that smaller companies could make a vital contribution to closing the carbon gap if they are given stronger incentives and fewer barriers.

Specific strategies are needed in areas such as microgeneration and energy efficiency for smaller firms, the FSB claimed.

Improving energy efficiency is a valuable objective for many organisations, partly because it can help to reduce costs while delivering benefits for the environment. What's more, it can contribute to a positive brand image, which businesses can also seek to achieve by working with partners and service suppliers that have strong green credentials.
Specific findings from the research showed that more than a quarter (27 percent) of the UK's smaller companies believe a low-carbon economy would create more opportunities than threats for their business. Only one in seven (14 percent) thought the opposite.

While nearly six out of ten respondents (58 percent) had introduced changes to enhance their energy efficiency, the FSB said many firms are "disempowered" or not incentivised to make further improvements.

Approximately one in eight small businesses (12 percent) generate their own energy, predominantly with solar panels. The study stressed that more needs to be done to encourage the remaining 88 percent to go down this route.
It also called for the next UK carbon plan to promote microgeneration, including for the 46 percent of smaller enterprises that rent their premises.

Other results from the survey showed that security of supply is the biggest energy concern for most small companies (60 percent). Nearly nine out of ten firms (86 percent) said the UK is overly dependent on imported energy.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB, claimed that the UK energy sector is on the brink of "the greatest transformation since the Industrial Revolution". He also said the entire system for incentivising and subsidising the business community needs "a strategic overhaul".

"The government should produce urgently an updated carbon plan, looking specifically at small businesses as an audience," Mr Cherry continued. "Without the input of an engaged and empowered small-business community, the UK risks failing to meet its binding emissions targets.

"Our research shows small firms want energy security to be a priority. Brexit raises yet more questions about the UK's future power supply. Infrastructure costs must be shared out equitably with small firms playing a pivotal role in securing Britain's energy future."

Separate research released by the FSB this month offered positive signs for the UK's small business community in general, showing that confidence levels had returned to levels not recorded since the start of the EU referendum campaign.

 

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of iStock/NicoElNino