American SMEs already feeling harmful effects of climate change

More than half of small business owners in the US believe climate change will adversely affect their business, with nearly one in five admitting that extreme weather events have already affected their operations.

The majority of small business owners expressed concerns about how climate change will affect their operations. Photo credit: Rena Schild /

The majority of small business owners expressed concerns about how climate change will affect their operations. Photo credit: Rena Schild /

The poll of 555 firms, commissioned by the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), surveyed views from SMEs ranging from 2 to 99 employees. It found most small business owners were concerned about how climate change will affect their operations including the impact on energy costs and vital infrastructure.

The vast majority (87%) named one or more consequences of climate change as potentially harmful to their operations, with 53% stating concern over higher energy costs and 48% citing costs stemming from power outages due to stress on the power grid.

Interestingly, 39% of businesses said they would prefer to accept a 10% increase in energy costs rather than accept the consequences of climate change.

In terms of carbon reduction, 64% of respondents felt more government regulation was needed to reduce carbon emissions from power plants compared to 29% who wanted companies to be able to regulate themselves.

In addition, 57% of SMEs said that the biggest carbon emitters should make the biggest reductions in carbon emissions and bear most of the costs of these reduction efforts. Half of those surveyed supported tighter EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) limits on carbon emissions with only 28% opposing them.

Pollution limits

The EPA has announced proposed limits on existing coal-fired power plants, which would complement proposed regulations on future power plants. It is due to shortly open a consultation on these proposals following an historic climate change announcement by US President Obama last month.

Commenting on the report findings in light of this, ASBC said: "This survey shows that small business owners oppose letting companies self-regulate with respect to power plant emissions, a finding that was consistent among businesses of varying sizes and business owners of all political affiliations.

"Even when asked to consider both supporting and opposing views on the issue, half of all businesses, including a plurality of micro businesses and clear majorities of larger businesses, said they supported tighter limits on carbon pollution from power plants."

Maxine Perella


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