Prime Minister Boris Johnson urges UK SMEs to make net-zero commitments

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued a rallying call to the UK's small and medium-sized (SME) businesses to make small steps to reduce emissions and contribute to the UK's net-zero target for 2050.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urges UK SMEs to make net-zero commitments

Businesses that sign up will receive climate-related support from the likes of NatWest

The campaign has been set up to encourage SMEs and microbusinesses to commit to cutting their emissions in half by 2030 and to net-zero by 2050 or sooner through the new UK Business Climate Hub.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Every step that a small business takes on their journey to net-zero adds up – not only in protecting the health of the planet but also in future-proofing their business and encouraging new investment, new customers and new opportunities for growth.

“We are providing the support and advice small businesses need to join us and become leaders in the fight against climate change.”

SMEs have been urged to switch to energy-saving light bulbs and switch to electric vehicles or cycling schemes for works.

Businesses that sign up will receive climate-related support from the likes of NatWest, Google, Scottish Power and BT.

Additionally, those that make a net-zero commitment will be recognised by the UN Race to Zero campaign. Almost one in three FTSE100 companies have signed up to the UN’s Race to Zero campaign, designed to accelerate the adoption of net-zero targets ahead of COP26.

Business & Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and as we transition to a green future, they will also the backbone of the UK tackling climate change. There are huge opportunities for a small business to go green – not only playing their part in saving the planet from climate change but helping grow their business and ensuring it is fit for the future.

“Simple changes could differentiate a business from the competition, attract new customers and investment and save them money on their running costs. That is why I am urging the nation’s small businesses to sign-up to become business climate leaders and lead the charge in protecting the future of our planet.”

There are around six million SMEs in the UK, accounting for 99% of the nation’s enterprises. They also employ 60% of the UK workforce and generate £2.2trn of revenue.

The announcement from Government follows the formation of the Zero Carbon Business Partnership, set up to help SMEs access the education, expertise and opportunities for collaboration needed to meet or better the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.

Members of the new Zero Carbon Business Partnership include the Federation of Small Businesses, British Chambers of Commerce, British Retail Consortium and Make UK. 

A survey of 500 SMEs conducted by Opinium on behalf of think tank the Entrepreneurs Network and the Enterprise Trust found that 61% of British SMEs believe that the move to a greener economy post-Covid-19 presents positive opportunities.

In that survey, respondents cited poor policy support as the biggest barrier to action.

Another piece of research, from the national standards body BSI, found that just one in five UK SMEs have a public and time-bound net-zero target, as opposed to half of large businesses.

Matt Mace

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