A recent survey of SME[1] decision makers conducted by YouGov, on behalf of World Kinect Energy Services, has revealed that some UK industries still have a long way to go to setting a sustainability strategy and goals, and therefore reducing their carbon footprint and their impact on the environment.

With the UK Government recently setting out its plan for a green industrial revolution to ensure the country reaches its 2050 net zero targets, the pressure is now on for businesses and industries to adopt renewable energy or find ways to reduce their energy consumption, which will all play a part in reducing global carbon emissions.

  • Out of all the British sectors surveyed, the construction industry was most likely to not have a strategy and also not plan to have one, with 38 per cent of construction businesses stating they do not have any plans to become more sustainable.
  • The medical and health sector is best prepared with 68 per cent of businesses having a sustainability strategy and 53 per cent of those are already hitting some or all of their goals.

YouGov conducted the survey on behalf of leading energy management, fuel supply and sustainability company, World Kinect Energy Services, which included MDs and CEOs from over 12 different UK industries including manufacturing, construction, retail, hospitality and medical and health.

Despite the construction industry producing some of the highest emissions, the research revealed that it is one of the least prepared industries to reduce its carbon footprint, with 38 per cent of operators admitting they do not have a sustainability strategy in place and do not have plans to introduce one.

The medical and health sector is one of the best prepared with 68 per cent of businesses having a sustainability strategy and 53 per cent of businesses in the industry already hitting some or all of their goals.

Barriers to sustainability

The study also sought to identify the barriers that could be preventing businesses from making further progress towards hitting sustainability targets. Budget is the biggest hurdle, with many businesses seemingly not being able to afford to put the required measures in place.

  • Over a quarter (29 per cent) admit Covid-19 has delayed their business’ sustainability goals, as they are more focused on financially getting through the pandemic.
  • 22% say Covid-19 has had an impact on the business, but their sustainability strategy and goals have continued as normal.
  • Almost half (47 per cent) of manufacturing and hospitality businesses cite financial costs as the biggest barrier to sustainability.
  • Just 29 per cent of decision makers in the medical industry say that the cost is a factor in preventing them from using renewable energy.
  • 58 per cent of decision makers in the hospitality sector, which has been severely affected by Covid-19, have seen their plans to become more sustainable scuppered by the pandemic.

“Organisations must act now.”

Commenting on the research findings, Senior Director of Global Sustainability, Therese Gjerde, said: “Despite some sectors leading the way to reduce their carbon footprint, we are still coming across so many businesses who simply aren’t ready for net zero, which is reflected in this independent research.

“The 2050 deadline for net zero is a lot closer than people think and it can take time to develop a realistic, achievable strategy and even longer to implement it. Organisations must act now and start their sustainability journey by developing a long-term emissions reduction strategy that will benefit their impact on the environment.

“Net zero targets could be brought forward, so ignoring the deadline may lead to penalties or larger pay outs further down the line.”

[1] Businesses with 1 to 249 employees