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Are we doing enough to help the UK economy become more sustainable?

UK Business Tracker

With the increasing regularity of more extreme weather, alongside what appears to be a never-ending amount of pollution, developing solutions to climate and sustainability issues has never been more important.

The vast majority of all UK businesses (79%) place value in reducing their impact on the environment generally.

With COP26 back in autumn of 2021 making some progress towards developing a cohesive plan, governments are getting more serious about addressing these issues. While delegates will try again in November at COP27, UK businesses should be asking themselves, are we doing enough to help the UK economy become more sustainable?

Savanta’s 2022 February business tracker asked 1006 UK businesses how they view and address the issue of climate change and wider environmental sustainability. The data collected shows that across all small, medium & large UK businesses, the issues of addressing climate change and sustainability challenges are at the forefront of their minds though, unfortunately, there is lacklustre follow-through.

The vast majority of all UK businesses (79%) place value in reducing their impact on the environment generally. Exploring this further, we see some notable trends emerge. 74% of small businesses considered reducing their business’ impact on the environment a priority, compared to 92% of medium & large businesses.

This trend can be seen throughout the tracker – when asked about reducing their business’ carbon footprint, becoming more sustainable and becoming carbon-neutral, medium & large businesses consistently place a higher value on these ideas when compared to their smaller counterparts.

Unfortunately, the levels of action when it comes to sustainability and climate issues do not appear to match the paramount importance businesses say they have. Very few businesses currently have plans in place to address sustainability issues; only 25% of UK businesses currently have a commitment or plan in place to become more sustainable. Shockingly, nearly a quarter of UK businesses (23%) have no intention of introducing a policy and commitment regarding sustainability. We found the same outcome when we asked businesses about becoming carbon-neutral, with only 20% of UK businesses currently having a plan or commitment in place.

While medium & large UK businesses consistently outperform their smaller peers in both aforementioned cases, they are still far from matching their levels of priority. When looking specifically at sustainability we can see that 93% of medium & large businesses value this as a priority. However, only 40% of these businesses currently have a plan or commitment currently in place, a far cry from the 9 out of 10 medium & large businesses who claim this is a priority.

With sustainability and climate issues becoming more prominent as time goes on, businesses will need to develop plans to adapt to the changing environment. The current amount of commitment from UK businesses is regrettably lacklustre, possibly due to the fact that businesses don’t know how to translate their ambitions into reality. If that is the case, a greater level of coordination and grand strategy across industry leaders can help align UK businesses, so they can achieve their climate and sustainability goals, as well as making it more practicable for smaller businesses to approach these big issues. What we can say with confidence, is that developing a plan to address environmental impact and sustainability will be key to future business success.

For more information about our new UK Business Tracker please download our rate card and/or get in touch with one of our business experts here.

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