UK Firms Falling Short of Climate Change Challenge

BRITAIN’S companies are "nowhere near" to meeting the challenge of climate change, according to the “Sustainable Business 2011: Reflecting on Progress” report.

The report assessing the sustainability performance of UK business was published Thursday, revealing that despite encouraging progress in many areas, UK firms are falling well short of achieving the Government target of an 80 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The report, published by Environmental Information Specialist, ENDS (Environment Data Services), in collaboration with Forum for the Future, finds that UK business rapidly increased its capacity to engage with sustainability in the latest year for which data is available – mostly 2010.

More companies are gaining environmental management certification and publishing sustainability reports. The number of workers and graduates with sustainability skills and knowledge is rising.

Care of the environment is generally improving, but the latest trends are less promising when it comes to business engagement with climate change. In the latest reported year UK business has slipped back on industrial carbon emissions, energy efficiency, decarbonising electricity generation, and greenhouse gas emissions – all areas which are crucial to the fight against climate change.

The report also finds a move away from sustainability in indicators looking at wider economic and social issues.

The report also finds a clear imprint of the Great Recession of the 2000's on business sustainability. Recession can reduce certain environmental impacts in the short-term but disrupts longer-term progress towards sustainability, it concludes.

Editor-in-Chief of ENDS, Nick Rowcliffe, said: “Current business efforts to engage with the climate change dimension of sustainability are not sufficient. Radical action is needed, including rethinking of business models.”

David Bent, Forum for the Future’s Deputy Director of Sustainable Business, added: “More and more companies are seeing that sustainability makes good business sense, but UK plc as a whole is risking its long-term future by not acting fast enough to meet the challenge of climate change.”

On a positive note, there are clear signs of progress in the low carbon goods and services sector, with the report pointing to research by KMatrix that shows green industries achieved sales of £122.2 billion in 2010-11, up 4.7 per cent on 2009-10.

As an indication that UK businesses are taking their responsibility towards the environment seriously, the research points to a 13.6 percent uptake in environmental management standards in 2009, and an increase of almost 10 percent in 2010 in the number of sustainability reports issued by UK firms. Sustainability-linked educational and professional qualifications are also on the increase, up by 4.4 percent in 2010.

Picutre Hartrigge Industrial Estate, Jedburgh © Copyright Walter Baxter and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Friday 16th September 2011

Add New Comment:


To Comment you must be a member of The ESA, please login or register to join

There are currently no comments, be the first to comment above.