UK SMEs emit nearly 15m tonnes of CO2 a year – Yet 77% have no plans to reduce carbon footprint over next three years

Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) account for 99.9% of all businesses in the private sector in the UK, with London accounting for 34% of the overall business population. 

According to the Carbon Trust, the average SME generates around 15 tonnes of CO2 annually, making up 44% of the total UK non-household emissions. Despite their alarming contribution, research from Lloyds Bank found that over three-quarters (77%) of small businesses do not have any business strategy to reduce their carbon footprint in the next three years and a concerning 2.5 million business owners do not know what is meant by ‘net zero’. To that end, the UK’s leading sustainability consultants, SaveMoneyCutCarbon (SMCC) have calculated how much CO2 the biggest start-up hubs in the UK emit on a yearly basis and further, outline their six-step plan for businesses to accelerate their eco goals.

It was found in a recent report that the UK is falling behind on government pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, significantly delaying our progress to meet net zero by 2050. While more than one-third (34%) of the world’s largest companies state being committed to Net Zero, nearly all (93%) are forecast to fail to achieve their goals if they don’t at least double the pace of emissions reduction by 2030, according to a new report from Accenture. Understanding the fundamental role that businesses play in the wider environmental goal and with research from SMCC showing that over 1-in-5 (22%) consumers are now only supporting companies with sustainability at the forefront of their operation, the sustainability consultants identify the top start-up hubs in the nation and also within the capital to encourage the implementation of green operations.

Top startup hubs within the UK:

  • Edinburgh
  • Leeds
  • Manchester
  • Birmingham
  • Bristol

Top 5 areas in London for startups and SMEs:

  • Camden
  • Hackney
  • Islington
  • Shoreditch
  • Tottenham

SaveMoneyCutCarbon’s recent report identified a lack of stringent training and ESG procedures within UK businesses as just 18% of UK respondents agreed that sustainability is included in training packages at their place of work, with this disproportionately being true for city workers where 25% of Londoners agree with this sentiment.

How does SaveMoneyCutCarbon deliver actual impact?

In a bid to ensure sustainability remains a business critical for the 5.5m SMEs across the UK, SMCC SaveMoneyCutCarbon shares their tech hubs – Audits & Analysis, Renewables, Water Reductions & Smart Washrooms, Demand Reduction, EV Charging and Content & Design – that deliver the services & solutions offered, pulling on approximately 75 manufacturers and solution providers. As a result, SMCC has delivered over 1,000 audits, energy, water & decarbonisation projects covering all the key decarbonisation technologies and across all sectors.

  1. Carbon Mentor call – a business will be assigned a dedicated Carbon Mentor to understand the present situation within a business and their decarbonisation ambitions
  2. Baseline report – from the call, SMCC’s platform creates an easy-to-understand Scope 1, Scope 2 baseline carbon footprint and guidance on Scope 3 and Scope 4 (staff carbon literacy)
  3. Built Environment Audit – SMCC’s team then audit the building(s) to identify the money, energy, water, and carbon savings available
  4. Project Financing – Creation of investment-grade proposals & tailored finance
  5. Project Delivery – Design, supply & installation of proven products and solutions
  6. Staff Engagement – SMCC’s EcoWise app & programme provides measured and rewarded learning improving carbon literacy

The Importance of Scope 4

Although not formally recognised, employee carbon literacy is a key tenet of a business’s ambition to reduce its carbon footprint. In light of this, SMCC has launched a 12-month programme called EcoWise, aimed at encouraging staff to learn, employ practical changes in their home and workplace, and reap rewards – all while providing quantifiable data for firms to report on their ESG strategies.

Mark Sait, CEO of SaveMoneyCutCarbon, commented the following on the importance of behavioural change in the UK:

“Businesses are likely to bear the brunt of the changes needed if the UK is going to get to net zero, but there is little pragmatic support to help businesses of all sizes to better understand what can be done, and where to start. Working at a company without a meaningful plan to reduce its environmental impact is a no-go for many job seekers. For employees, frustration at their own organisation’s lack of development leads to a new phenomenon: climate quitting.

“Climate quitting then is a natural symptom of the wider problem. In order to guard against this phenomenon effectively, businesses can’t knock back a few painkillers – they need to treat the root cause.

“Employers must understand the generations who are increasingly turning away from roles who do not prioritise ESG goals, but further to continue to drive progress on the challenges that matter most to them. This will not only help boost productivity and retain talent—it will ultimately build trust and value for business in society more broadly.

“The market is very fragmented with many individual consultants, manufacturers and installers all tackling bits of the sustainability jigsaw. SaveMoneyCutCarbon is solving this, by aggregating selected, proven technologies and solutions from a wide range of manufacturers. Products and solutions need to be carefully selected by building an application, brought together, and installed correctly to maximise savings. Now that businesses and homes can really save money through sustainability, the narrative is changing. Everyone wants to save money.”

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