Half of UK businesses 'targeting carbon neutrality by 2030'

A survey of 502 UK businesses has found that almost half are aiming to be carbon-neutral by 2030, with 8% claiming they had already reached this milestone.

Image: EcoAct 

Image: EcoAct 

Conducted by YouGov this summer, the survey was used to track the climate attitudes of business representatives from major sectors including education, accounting, retail, wholesaling, transport, technology services, restaurant services, construction, real estate, personal care and natural resources such as mining, forestry and oil.

Of the respondents, 93% agreed that climate change is both real and being driven, either in full or in part, by human activity.

This agreement was evident in the respondents’ answers to the question: “Is your business planning to be net-carbon-neutral?”

Overall, 46% of respondents said their organisation had plans – either public or internally published – to become carbon-neutral by 2030. Just 5% said this milestone was feasible for their firm within the next year, with most targeting a timespan between two and five years.

A further 8% claimed their business has already achieved carbon-neutrality – a feat which, at present, would require most kinds of organisation to purchase carbon offsets.

UK-based businesses which have already publicly claimed carbon neutrality include the likes of Aldi UK, Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Neal’s Yard.

A FTSE 100 flop

In related news, and in stark contrast to YouGov’s findings, EcoAct has released its annual sustainability leaderboard table for FTSE100 firms.

The leaderboard states that 85 of the companies listed “do not have a sufficient emissions reduction strategy in place to limit global warming to safe levels”. EcoAct’s judgment on whether a strategy is “sufficient” is based on whether it aligns with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory, which the IPCC has equated to the global achievement of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

While praising the fact that 81 of the 100 firms have set long-term emissions reduction strategies, the leaderboard also highlighted the fact that less than one-fifth (18%) of the corporates listed are either already carbon-neutral or publicly committed to reaching carbon neutrality by mid-century. Companies named as leaders in this respect include M&S, Tesco and BT, the latter of which is targeting net-zero carbon by 2045.  

“What has become crystal clear over the last year is that the climate emergency is no longer a distant concept,” EcoAct’s managing director Stuart Lemmon said.

“In our 9th year of examining climate performance of the UK’s largest companies, while we have seen progress, change is simply not happening fast enough. It is now imperative that companies urgently step up to their responsibilities to drastically reduce carbon output.”


The net-zero transition at edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum

edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum returns in 2020, as some of the biggest companies, individuals and organisations championing sustainability gather at the Business Design Centre on 4 & 5 February to discuss the emergency response in transitioning to a net-zero economy.

The flagship, multi-award-winning event features keynotes speakers including Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland; Rebecca Marmot, Unilever CSO; Tom Szaky, TerraCycle CEO; Gilbert Ghostine, Firmenich CEO plus directors and senior managers from Interface, Vattenfall, John Lewis, Taylor Wimpey, Aviva, Pret A Manger, Pernod Ricard, LEGO Group, M&S, Diageo, Tesco, WSP, BASF, Mondelēz and more. For details and to register, visit: https://event.edie.net/forum/


Sarah George



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