Survey: Brexit uncertainty halting sustainability investment

Almost a third of businesses claim to have delayed green innovation projects in the last 12 months due to the political uncertainty over Brexit, research from Schneider Electric has revealed.

The UK is currently due to leave the EU on 31 October, with or without a deal. 

The UK is currently due to leave the EU on 31 October, with or without a deal. 

The research, published in the company’s ‘Rethink Energy’ report today (15 October), found 31% said they delayed projects while 13% had cut budgets for key projects, including those aimed at tackling sustainability.

In total 400 large businesses were surveyed, along with 120 SMEs and 2,000 UK consumers.

While sustainability remains “firmly” on the boardroom agenda, the number of businesses choosing to delay projects has increased by one-quarter in the last two years, Schneider Electric claims.

The research found that while businesses view sustainability and efficiency as a long-term necessity, three-quarters say that implementing sustainable working practices will have a negative impact on their bottom line, up from 54% in 2017.

Meanwhile, 85% of business leaders reported feeling torn between doing the right thing for society and doing the right thing for the performance of their business.

The biggest drivers of sustainability initiatives for large businesses are long-term financial stability and improved brand reputation while meeting government sustainability targets and helping to mitigate climate change were also "top-five" drivers.

SMEs were six times more likely to make changes to their business to reduce their impact on the environment only if legislation demands it. This, Schneider suggests, means a tougher line from the Government may be required to drive large-scale change.

Meanwhile, for consumers, the rising cost of energy bills is the number one incentive to reduce energy consumption, with financial incentives from the Government the number two driver for change.

Reducing the impact of carbon emissions for future generations is now a key consideration for a third of the British public, up from one-quarter of the public just 12 months ago.

Schneider Electric's zone president UK and Ireland Mike Hughes said: “It is going to take hundreds of billions of pounds to decarbonise Britain and achieve the UK Government’s net-zero 2050 target, a target which we fully support.

“It is clear that the Government is looking to the business community to fund a significant portion of the investment required, and alongside cost, there is also opportunity.

“But as our research clearly shows, no business is going to risk committing millions of pounds to projects, particularly those involving new technologies without a stable environment in which to invest.”

Adam John

This article appeared first on edie's sister title, Utility Week



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