The British Chambers of Commerce and Lloyds Bank have published (more!) research highlighting the confusion and challenges SMEs face in understanding and taking action on the Net Zero agenda. But really is it any wonder?
We absolutely need more consistency and clarity from the government on Net Zero for SMEs. Currently all the regulation impacts larger businesses, leaving many SMEs and especially micro businesses confused by about what they should be doing and by when. Many smaller businesses don't have the capacity or finance as a business to take on an in-house sustainability resource, so rely on external sources like the government to provide resources and support to help them take action, but the clearly signposted resources and support are lacking. Coupled with the "cost of doing business crisis" means many SMEs are fighting for survival, is it any wonder these businesses are not writing a plan for for what green skills their business needs when they are fighting to survive.
The research found that 19% of SMEs with fewer than 50 employees had a Net Zero plan in place- but does this really come as a surprise when there is a lack of clarity on what is required of them, reinforced by a lack of mandated reporting. Many large corporates who have Net Zero plans in place haven't defined or published a credible transition plan of how they will achieve their goal. Large corporates need to help smaller businesses on their Net Zero journey not force their targets down the value chain to make it someone else's problem, collaboration, support and engagement is key. There are some great examples of large corporates providing Net Zero mentoring schemes, carbon literacy training and supplier workshops to support their SME supply chain on the journey to Net Zero. We need more of these collaborations, clarity and tangible actions and support for SMEs to feel empowered to take action on their Net Zero journey.