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Just 10% of UK companies have strategies to cut carbon emissions, study reveals

Caitlin Morrison

Just 10 per cent of UK companies have a strategy for reducing carbon emissions, according to findings seen by The Independent.

Energy consultancy Carbon Credentials carried out a survey of 1,000 business leaders with responsibility for sustainability or energy, as well as 1,000 company employees in different roles.

The results showed 10 per cent of firms have set a carbon reduction target, although 70 per cent of heads of sustainability think their company is doing enough to cut emissions.

Paul Lewis, chief executive of Carbon Credentials, said: “Changes need to come from everyone, and businesses are in a powerful position to make a real impact, yet not all businesses are delivering on their sustainability targets.”

None of the companies with a carbon reduction plan have set a science-based target – which would factor in a requirement to keep the global temperature increase below 2C compared to pre-industrial temperatures. This aim follows the advice of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Mr Lewis added: “For there to be any chance in meeting the IPCC warming recommendations and to make a real dent in the side of climate change then organisations must play their part by having clearly defined environmentally sustainable policies in place that are centred around ambitious emission reduction targets.

Meanwhile, the staff surveyed said they felt that companies are failing to engage with them on the issue.

Mr Lewis said: “Staff are engaged and willing to help organisations to be more carbon efficient, but they aren’t being given the incentives, tools and sometimes the support to do this.”

The survey showed 46 per cent of companies had invited employees to come up with sustainable ideas, but few of the suggestions were actually carried out.

The top five actions taken in the last year were: introducing office recycling bins (38 per cent of companies did this); inviting sustainability ideas (36 per cent); putting up posters (36 per cent); sustainable procurement (26 per cent); and staff training and engagement (21 per cent).

The findings come during the COP24 climate summit in Poland. David Attenborough told the conference on Monday that civilisation will collapse if humanity doesn't take action on global warming.

The World Bank also announced this week that it will invest $200bn (£157bn) to help poorer countries prepare for climate change.