‘Pandemic knocked sustainability down SME priority list’

The climate agenda has lost importance for smaller businesses in the last two years but why should it be important?

Big Zero Report 2023

SMEs’ focus on climate change and sustainability has dropped following the pandemic.

That’s according to a new study from NatWest, whose ‘Sustainable Business Tracker’ compares the differences in climate focus from large companies and SMEs.

The report reveals that despite more green policies being passed to boost recovery and growth, the level of interest in becoming greener for smaller companies has dropped significantly compared to 2019.

Large companies have witnessed the opposite reaction, with far more sustainability plans and targets set at the start of this year – strengthening the gap between these businesses.

The study revealed that 51% of large firms said they were motivated to tackle climate change, with only 35% of SMEs stating the same.

More than 50% of these smaller companies had sustainability as a priority before the pandemic, with this number only at 41% now.

The bank found last year that half of the UK’s carbon reduction ambitions can be achieved by the SME sector, which would in turn unlock £160 billion in opportunities for these businesses.

It is warning these smaller companies to not shy away from greener measures, as they will not only provide more opportunities for businesses but also make them a more realistic investment for customers.

Andrew Harrison from the NatWest Group commented: “It’s been a challenging 18 months for UK SMEs and not surprising therefore that the climate agenda has slipped back on the agenda for some small businesses.

“It’s important that SMEs know that sustainability measures can boost their recovery and even fuel their growth, for example through increasing efficiency, lowering energy bills and by future proofing their operations.”

Make sure you check out the latest Net Hero Podcast episode: