Will the COP26 summit in Glasgow deliver support for small businesses on climate change
Will the COP26 summit in Glasgow result in smart policies that will help small businesses become more energy efficient and sustainable? 
The British Business Bank estimates that smaller businesses account for almost half of current greenhouse gas emissions from all UK businesses. A new study on climate change has now been published with recommendations to help support millions of smaller companies become more sustainable. 
The study is called Accelerating Progress: Empowering small businesses on the journey to net zero. It brings together findings from a survey of 1,200 small businesses in the UK. The results show that: 
56% of small businesses believe that the planet is facing a climate crisis but only 36% have a formal plan for what they can do to make a difference 
67% are addressing their energy use 
of those that haven’t yet taken any action, almost a quarter are worried about the return on investment and two out of 10 say they don't have capital to invest in renewable energy equipment such as heat pumps and solar panels 
almost two thirds said they had increased recycling and half are trying to reduce waste 
while zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs) are seen as part of the solution almost half of the small businesses surveyed said the cost was a barrier to change and more than a third were concerned about the availability of charging points. 
A survey by the Institute of Directors found that, while 80% of directors said that their organisation should operate in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way, only a quarter said they fully understood how they could lower their carbon footprint and meet net zero carbon goals. A third agreed that the costs of moving towards net-zero goals were hindering progress. 
Less than 30% of directors' organisations measure their carbon impact or have a ‘well worked out plan’ to reduce their carbon footprint and only 16% have set a date to reach net zero. More than half of these business leaders believe that it is the government’s role to provide advice to businesses on how to reduce their carbon impact. 

Positive action to help small businesses 

Over half of small businesses say that grants or low-interest loans would be an incentive to become more energy-efficient, while three out of ten say a discount on business rates would encourage them to take steps. 
Options to help small businesses could include a Help to Green initiative which might be like the Help to Grow scheme, including vouchers that businesses could spend on environmental products and services. 
A scrappage scheme for commercial diesel vehicles could encourage recycling in exchange for grants that could be put towards cleaner hybrids and ZEVs. Of course, the government will also need to make sure that we have an adequate ZEV charging network. 
The Chancellor could also lower the capital requirements to allow banks to give loans more easily to businesses that are making green improvements. 
If you would like help to assess the costs and benefits of sustainability measures for your business, please get in touch. 
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