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Climate change: Up to 4 million UK firms have no plan for net zero

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With climate change action ramping up around 50% of firms do not know what the term net zero means. Photo: Getty
With climate change action ramping up around 50% of firms do not know what the term net zero means. Photo: Getty

As climate change action ramps up, over three-quarters of British firms have made no plans to reduce their carbon footprint in the next three years, a report suggests.

New research from Lloyds Bank (LLOY.L) published on Tuesday found 77%, or 4.2 million, of small companies do not have, or are unsure about their business strategy to reach net zero emissions.

The survey shows that around 50% — up to 2.5 million — of respondents did not know what was meant by the term net zero.

Just 15% of small firms understand how to calculate their carbon footprint, while 12% know theirs.

A lack of knowledge was the main blocker to having a defined sustainability plan for small business owners and managers, with 34% saying this was their greatest challenge. A quarter (25%) said not having the necessary finances was the main barrier and a further 25% cited a lack of time.

Lloyds said firms calculated their carbon footprint by converting the expected greenhouse gasses generated through activities, such as using energy to heat office space or using fuel to transport goods.

Of the 1,059 respondents, 81% of business owners recognise the importance of being more sustainable, with 68% also aware that the UK government has set targets to reach net zero.

However, the study found 40% do not think there is enough support available to realise "green" ambitions.

Image: Lloyds Bank
Image: Lloyds Bank

Younger business owners, those under the age of 35, are most likely to be concerned about their carbon footprint (50%) and a third (34%) know how to calculate it — 19 percentage points higher than the average.

For older business owners, aged over 55, 29% admitted to having carbon concerns. This was the age group least likely to know how to calculate their carbon footprint, with only 11% knowing how to do so.

Read more: UK to create 480,000 green jobs by 2030

Adam Rainey, commercial director of business banking at Lloyds said: "While our nation’s small businesses recognise the importance of tackling climate change, there are real issues with understanding how to get there — including calculating carbon emissions and even the meaning of net zero.

"Fortunately, there’s a whole host of support available to help businesses make their first steps in becoming greener, from getting started with electric vehicles, practical guides to help reach net zero and tools to calculate potential energy savings at business premises.

"We know it can seem daunting but some really simple things, such as reducing travel and recycling, are also great places to start."

Watch: Why are gas prices rising?

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