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Small business accounts for half of Britain's business-driven emissions

Reducing the UK’s business-related carbon footprint is not just the responsibility of the larger companies perceived to be at the root of the issue, according to new research.

Small companies account for roughly 50 per cent of Britain’s business-driven emissions, the same proportion as larger businesses, according to research from the British Business Bank.

The bank’s estimates show that smaller businesses account for almost a third –30 per cent – of all current UK greenhouse gas emissions, including emissions from households, industry and government, and around half of total emissions from UK businesses.

The state-owned economic development bank warned that while awareness of net zero is becoming significant, only half of smaller businesses say decarbonisation or reducing environmental impact is a near-term priority.

A further 35 per cent of smaller businesses said that state cost is a barrier to reducing carbon emissions.

11 per cent of UK smaller companies – roughly 700,000 businesses – have accessed external finance to support net zero actions, while 22 per cent say they are prepared to do so in the next five years.

“Smaller businesses will generally have lower individual carbon footprints than their larger counterparts, but by broadening their vision and committing to action they can collectively produce a significant overall impact,” said Catherine Lewis La Torre, chief executive, British Business Bank. 

“Action to mitigate the impacts of climate change is at a tipping point, and it is crucial for smaller business owners to feel empowered, informed and supported in making the relevant steps to decarbonising their business if the UK is going to meet its wider net zero objectives by 2050.”

She said that with more than half of smaller businesses saying they are not ready to prioritise decarbonisation, “clearly more needs to be done.”

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