Businesses Still Believe in Net Zero
Businesses overwhelmingly still believe in net zero post the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a survey of future Net Zero readers, with 73 per cent indicating the Covid-19 pandemic has not affected their ambitions to eliminate carbon emissions..
Despite the tougher economic conditions predicted after the pandemic, 78 per cent of respondents believe this is the perfect opportunity to capitalise on net zero plans. And when asked, if we are at a net zero reset, should business lead this change? Again, a huge majority 79 per cent said, "yes".
Overall just over a fifth of those surveyed (22 per cent), said the coronavirus crisis had pushed back their net zero commitments and of those, 51 per cent had no idea how long the delay would be and 24 per cent believed a delay of at least one year was likely.
Although bullish about the overall goal there are concerns about the economic downturn with a significant feeling of trepidation at what lies ahead.
Sumit Bose, Net Zero founder, says: Our survey is the first bit of leadership thinking after Covid-19 looking into the mindset of businesses and public sector bodies regarding net zero carbon ambitions. I am really pleased to see such positivity.
"I think this shows that despite the certain economic difficulties ahead, we are now on a pathway to net zero which business not only believes in, it actively supports.
"The future can be net zero and we should rise to the challenge even as we deal with the current crisis."
Key Survey findings
Business backs net zero
Readers overwhelmingly believe the ambition for net zero is not going to be set back significantly by the current coronavirus pandemic. Some clear trends on the reasons for the positivity were apparent;
- Net zero is inherently better for the environment and cheaper – it is in businesses own interests as both suppliers of net zero services and those end users wanting to obtain long term net zero goals. It's clear net zero actions are part of the immediate short-term goal of cost saving.
- Government needs to show leadership in this regard and focus on ensuring a return to work in which we learn from the lockdown and ensure net zero pathways and policies are available and supported.
- The benefits of working from home, less commuting, etc are all inherently contributing to net zero in their own way and the benefits of it are now very clear for business to see.
Leading the way
Business should lead the transition in this time of crisis say 79% of respondents, with the majority saying the need to show ambition for their own staff and wider society, let alone for commercial reasons.
Incredibly 78 per cent also felt this was the right time to act even with economic pressures. The reasons for this confidence included;
- A tougher economic background makes it easier to develop sustainability business cases with cost savings
- Businesses will be looking to find efficiencies- it's about identifying how to frame sustainability opportunities in the right manner
- Confidence in finding funding low carbon assets for business
- Encourage businesses who have benefited from Government support mechanisms to sign up to a formal net zero commitment as part of their loan or grant schemes received from the COVID support mechanisms
- Making greater use of the confidence in technology to deliver meetings/ cut travel
- Saving money has to be a business KPI more than ever and net zero goals align with that
Timeframe for uncertainty?
It wasn't all positive news however. Overall a fifth of our survey (22%) did believe net zero plans would be affected negatively by the fallout from the pandemic. And of those the majority (51%) said they they had no idea/ until the lockdown ended. With 25.5% predicting a delay of a year at least.
The reasons for these views varied from:
- Business aims were short term only and focused on cash preservation and no sign offs were expected on net zero investments
- Covid 19 response overtaking all other activities
- Teams have been furloughed
- Retrofit supply chain has been suspended so work cannot continue
- Lack of confidence to invest in the next year
- Governance issues are hindering net zero
The survey seemed to be polarised by either respondents in SMEs or those in very large corporates, with less feedback from the mid-market sector.
There is hope for the future when it comes to net zero and we have some clear trends from our survey results in three areas.
First, many see this as a business opportunity, which is so encouraging. The use of technologies like biomass, using procurement tools to buy far greener energy, the value of being a net zero brand and using this time to push the board to accept changes as they need to be more adaptable, were all reasons cited for the confidence.
Secondly, many believe coronavirus has forced behaviour change which can be capitalised upon now. Home working, less travel, more digital connectivity and integrated fast decision-making were all common themes. Businesses seem to be more open to try new things and most want the government to push financial recovery levers that favour net zero policies and practices.
And finally, an environmental and social benefit, the pandemic has encouraged us to all think more about wider society and the planet we live on. Our businesses feel it shows the cost of not acting now on net zero, enhanced community spirit has invigorated many and most are looking at waste and the cost of daily actions which were once thought essential but have been proven to be not so.
Visit future Net Zero for additional information.