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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.
"Very easy. Bea Luseni very efficient & knowledgeable."This review was posted by Alan Duffy on the 31st of March 2017
Super helpful and easy to work with
"Recommend this company in a heartbeat - Nicole Borneuf was super easy to talk to, was not pushy in the slightest, very helpful and replied with all my questions very professionally and did all she could to help. I had to deal with a few companies to sort my business energy out, all but Nicole were too pushy for my liking and I refused to follow through with them. Thank Nicole - you are a credit to your company, thank you for making the stressful energy change so easy."This review was posted by Mia Drew on the 29th of March 2017
An Extremely Competent Company
"Switch my business has not only helped my SME secure a good energy deal for the second year running but Jessica swiftly found a alternative supplier for me when I was let down on the day of switching by the new contractual provider I had chosen some 4 months previously. Being suddenly out of contract and without provider is everyone's energy nightmare. Greatest thanks."This review was posted by S McMillan on the 29th of March 2017
Helpful, friendly and we saved lots of money!
"Jessica Purnell was helpful and friendly, she made the whole process easy and simple AND we saved lots of money thanks Jess"This review was posted by Melanie Baker on the 23rd of March 2017
Quick & Easy
"Kabibi was very helpful and the whole process was very efficient. The one small reservation I had was that I was phoned up by Kabibi almost immediately having received my online quote - which wasn't enough time for me to finish reading the quotes! Fortunately she was able to assist me in a greater savings on both Gas & Electricity, and so as long as the switchover is seamless I will remain very happy with the service."This review was posted by Amanda Brown on the 21st of March 2017