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A transition to a low carbon economy is now inevitable but a new study shows many UK businesses are unprepared for the inescapable implications. What can SMEs do to ready themselves?
UK business leaders are struggling to adapt to a low carbon economy, finds new research from Aston University, despite obligations to do so.
Low motivation is a major contributor to the failure to adapt, with the survey finding that nearly 80% of business leaders are just not that bothered about climate change and the transition to a low carbon economy: more than a third (38%) do not see it as a concern, while another 41% think it merely a minor concern.
More encouragingly, two thirds (66%) of business leaders believe their business has a responsibility to do something about climate change and support the transition to a low carbon economy. But few have taken action: only 7% have adapted their corporate strategy and future business plans to accommodate the issue. A further 16% have plans to make significant changes, while 32% say their business is not adapting its plans at all.
Professor Dame Julia King, Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, said, “Climate change is perhaps the biggest challenge facing the world today [but] at present businesses are not necessarily prepared and equipped to respond to the challenge.”
How can SMEs actually engage with the coming low carbon economy? Surprisingly, Aston suggested hiring students could be best way to embed knowledge of climate change. However, the survey again uncovered apathy in this area: 59% of businesses say they do not require new recruits to have any knowledge or understanding of the subject.
That could be shortsighted, as Ben Wielgus, Associate Director of Sustainability Services at KPMG, pointed out: “I believe that these [climate change] megaforces are undoubtedly going to change the way business and society works and the most successful companies will hire the best graduates who understand and can adapt to this changing agenda.”
As an added bonus, salaries for these generally younger employees can be very competitive, especially if they are initially taken on as an apprentice (see our guide to apprenticeship for SMEs here).
Coming from the other direction, awareness of climate change issues can be helpful in attracting the young workers best placed to address the challenges of climate change: 19% of students say it is important that any future employer takes the low carbon economy seriousl (see our guide to recruiting for SMEs).
A practical but straightforward way to move into the low carbon future is getting your business electricity from low carbon, renewable sources. Perceptions of green business energy as expensive are outdated. With the UK now getting a substantial proportion of its business electricity from renewable generation, green business energy prices can be very competitive if you shop around.
If you don’t have time to compare business electricity suppliers yourself, the no-obligation business electricity comparisons that our SME experts offer can include a variable amount of green energy.
Our dedicated page has lots more information about business electricity.
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