UK businesses demand more government support for net zero future

A recent report from Ecologi, the UK's climate action platform, reveals that 79% of UK businesses believe the government should offer more support to enhance their environmental practices.

The survey, which involved 1,400 business owners and decision-makers, found that over three-quarters (76%) support government investment in the green economy as beneficial for business, likely to create jobs and reduce operational costs. Additionally, 73% of respondents believe increased government support is crucial for businesses to raise their sustainability targets.

As inflation persists, UK businesses encounter numerous obstacles in achieving their environmental goals, including financial limitations (32%), high costs of necessary tools or technology (28%), and insufficient government support (25%).

The global economic downturn has negatively affected the environmental initiatives of nearly three in 10 (29%) businesses, with 31% yet to set any sustainability targets. Of those that have set targets, only 27% are confident they will meet the net-zero by 2050 goal. Consequently, many are seeking government assistance, with nearly half (45%) having applied for funding to green their operations.

The case for increased support is strong among the 79% of businesses advocating for more government action, highlighting a clear demand for additional state funding (45%) and incentives (44%), along with better access to information (40%). Over a third (36%) would appreciate clearer government goals and targets, while 35% see a need for more education on these issues.

To underscore this need, Ecologi has partnered with the UK Climate Lobby. In anticipation of Earth Day on Monday, 15th April, they presented 'the green case' – a symbolic red briefcase similar to the budget box - outside Parliament to underscore the need for government backing of business sustainability efforts.

Dimitri Theocharis, CEO of Ecologi said: “The message coming from UK businesses is loud and clear – the desire to drive sustainably is there, but the full support required to achieve this is not. It's time for the Government to act.

"To drive this message home, we've reimagined the iconic red budget box into a 'green case' for our planet to parliament. We hope this sends a clear message for the Government to work together with businesses to accelerate climate action for a net zero future."

What’s driving the change?

Encouragingly, the second annual climate commitments report from Ecologi shows that UK businesses understand the importance of becoming more sustainable. The vast majority (76%) see this as a core business strategy and eight in 10 (81%) plan to increase or maintain current levels of investment in sustainability initiatives over the next two years.

When asked what measures their company is currently taking to combat climate change, half (49%) of businesses said they are increasing rates of recycling or reducing energy consumption (48%) while more than a third (37%) have taken the step of using greener suppliers and products. Meanwhile, 35% have been educating employees on best practices to reduce climate change and a further 35% have increased their use of renewable energy.

Sian Conway-Wood, Senior Lobbyist, the Climate Lobby, commented: “The vast majority of UK businesses are striving to become more environmentally sustainable – but many can’t achieve this alone.

“In order to ensure that homegrown businesses can continue to compete both in the UK and globally, the Government must invest in a full scale green revolution. Not only for the sake of the planet, but to reduce operating costs, create jobs and boost the economy in both the short and long term.”

When asked what drives their business to make more environmentally sustainable choices:

  • Brand reputation came top with three in 10 (29%) saying this was a driver
  • A quarter (25%) listed attracting more customers
  • 25% listed building climate resilience (i.e. protecting their business from climate risks)
  • 22% said offering their business a competitive advantage was a key driver
  • 22% said aligning with official guidance or regulations was a driving factor