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Just Under 1 in 3 SME Owners Under 25 Feels Guilty About Not Tackling Their Carbon Emissions

At a time of rising fuel prices, unstable energy supplies and increasing climate warnings, as many as 715,000 small businesses who are worried about the climate crisis admit that they could be doing more to cut emissions and drive the green agenda according to research from YouGov.

The new research from a nationally representative sample of over 1,200 small businesses showed that 57 per cent of small businesses are feeling frustrated that not enough is being done within their broader community to act on climate matters. However, just 44 per cent said they were taking an active stance towards reducing carbon emissions of their own business.

The research showed that small business owners want to make changes but are held back by not knowing where to begin (62 per cent).

This frustration and uncertainty of how to proceed has led many to admit to a sense of guilt for their current inaction (19 per cent) and the number rises among younger businesses: 32 per cent of business owners under 25 and 28 per cent of business owners under 44 admit to not doing enough to tackle the climate crisis – and feeling guilty about it.

Two years on from the introduction of lockdown regulations, securing growth and rebuilding is top of the small business agenda – and whilst carbon emission reduction is important to many, 34 per cent say they are struggling to balance the task while keeping up with the pressures of growing their business.

Encouragingly, there are those among the small business community who have gone one step further than understanding the issues and are taking an active stance on reducing their emissions – 29 per cent of UK small businesses have set targets and are making comprehensive steps toward meeting them. Forward-thinking businesses are aware of the commercial benefits of going green (29 per cent) and want to work with other business who have set similar standards on meeting net zero emissions.

The IPCC have delivered the latest climate report urging governments to take rapid action towards renewable energy and have proposed ways of extracting CO2 from the atmosphere in the case of the climate emergency. This new research suggests that the UK small business community, renowned for resilience and adaptability, are ready to sign up for change – all they need is a little direction.

Jo Morris, head of insight at Novuna Business Finance comments: “We understand that the prospect of re-evaluating business models and supply chains to meet the low emissions agenda can be daunting for small businesses and we believe it is important to assure them that they are not alone. Our research has clearly shown that small businesses care about the climate crisis and if they knew more about what they could do, they would.

“It is important to recognise the significance that every step makes in the journey towards zero emissions – and to really celebrate all of the stages of progression. We cannot expect to see this shift happen over-night, but what we can do is assure small businesses that there are ways they can all make a difference.”


  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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