Just four in ten companies think they are on track to reach net zero on time

The Government has promised that the UK will cut its contribution to climate change to nothing by 2050, but companies are unsure they can keep up.

August Graham
Wednesday 27 October 2021 00:01
Businesses will need to decarbonise for the UK to meet its climate change target. (Peter Byrne/PA)
Businesses will need to decarbonise for the UK to meet its climate change target. (Peter Byrne/PA)

Only four in ten businesses say they are on track to comply with the UK’s climate change targets, while staff are unsure about what their employers are achieving, new data show.

In a survey released by Microsoft and Goldsmiths, University of London, three quarters of organisations said they had “one foot in and one foot out” on sustainability.

We can’t make improvements without having visibility of where we’re at

Dr Chris Brauer

It comes despite big commitments from many companies to make sure that they eliminate their contribution to global warming within the next 30 years, if not sooner.

“At the moment, there’s a lot of pledges. And the pledges are the easy part,” said Microsoft’s UK general manager for corporate affairs Hugh Milward.

“It’s actually how we turn the ambition that drives pledges into lasting action, in order to really have an impact.

“What we want to get away from is that the solution is around the corner and therefore they shouldn’t be doing anything in the meantime,” he said.

“There are short-term and there are longer-term strategies that should be deployed now.”

Dr Chris Brauer, director of innovation in the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, said that it is very important for companies to measure their emissions, including from their supply chains, and other environmental impacts from their business.

“We can’t make improvements without having visibility of where we’re at,” he said.

He also said that getting the right staff to move towards sustainability will be important.

“There’s been such a push to recruit people with STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) that could contribute around the digital transformation agenda,” he said.

“We’re only now starting to see the same sort of drive and determination in organisations to recruit talent that can contribute meaningfully around sustainability, both in relation to the technologies, but also the philosophy, and the ways of thinking.”

But Dr Brauer’s research shows that workers are not very confident about their employers’ track record.

Only 19% say that their employer implements their sustainability plan efficiently, and just 17% think their workplace is as environmentally friendly as their own homes, despite Britain having some of the worst insulated homes in Europe.

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