Net zero what? 40% of UK companies don’t understand climate targets

A survey conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce has revealed widespread confusion and a lack of clarity around Downing Street’s own environmental goals. 

forest trees marked with question marks

Taking into account responses from 1,000 businesses – most of which are categorised as SMEs – the organisation found that 7% of those organisations were not aware of the UK Government’s target of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. A further 33% knew it existed but were not familiar with the details of how this will happen. 

While both those figures are down on the previous 12 months (when 13% were completely in the dark, and 48% didn’t understand the practicalities), critics argue that had Prime Minister Rishi Sunak not cut back on planned environmental policies in September this year, far more business leaders would feel well informed on the issue. 

Postponements to planned bans on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, among other u-turns, were also seen as detrimental to the environment and corporate activities by some of those taking part in the study. 24% said the delay would have a negative impact. However, 31% said it would have a positive effect on their business, which suggests that many firms did not feel they were up-to-date or prepared for the move to net zero. 

‘There is a huge challenge ahead to raise awareness in the business community about the UK’s 2050 net-zero target. Many firms are simply unaware of it, or have only a cursory understanding. Business must be at the heart of tackling climate change. The Chamber network is working hard every day to improve understanding among our members, but companies need clear leadership from politicians,’ said Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce.

‘Firms are calling out for a consistent net-zero framework that is clearly explained to them. The transition to Net Zero provides businesses with huge opportunities to grow and diversify. But awareness is key,’ she continued. ‘From flooding to heatwaves, a significant number of companies are now telling us severe weather is having a real impact on their business. Standing still on tackling climate change is no longer an option. We want three outcomes from COP28. We need clarity of frameworks to drive action. We need to see action to prepare for increasing exposure to severe weather events around the world. And finally, we want to see more support for the innovation and expansion of green technologies.’

More on net zero: 

WATCH: Supply chain transparency platform SCDP passes proof of concept

dentsu and Generation C pilot new climate education programme

Autumn Statement drops points on energy efficiency

Image: Evan Dennis


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