22nd July 2021
15% of UK businesses have set target date for net zero emissions
· Of these, 2030 is the most commonly cited target date (45%)
· Over a third (37%) confident to meet their target, vs one fifth who aren’t (19%)
Thursday 22 July – Nearly one-in-six UK businesses have now set net zero targets, according to the Accenture/IHS Markit UK Business Outlook. The survey of over 1,400 businesses in the UK found that 15% have set a target for zero emissions.
Of these respondents, the most commonly reported time scale was by 2030 (45%). One-in-three (33%) reported by 2025 as their target, while only 3% indicated beyond 2050.
The proportion of firms expecting to meet their net zero emissions target (37%) was almost double those lacking confidence (19%).
There were signs that recent leadership changes had made a target more likely, with 18% of respondents in this category reporting a net zero target. Just over two-thirds of the survey panel (68%) have not set a target date for net zero emissions.
Anecdotal evidence provided by survey respondents often cited efforts to reduce their carbon footprint and direct capex investments towards sustainable initiatives, despite a lack of formal targets for net zero emissions. The installation of solar panels and purchases of electric vehicles were commonly reported.
Rachel Barton, Strategy & Consulting Lead at Accenture in the UK & Ireland, said: “Sustainability issues have shot up the corporate agenda in the last 18 months, with greater expectations on businesses to translate words into action. This survey shows that businesses are responding. Across sectors, firms are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and direct investment to sustainable initiatives, while an encouraging proportion have tied themselves to specific net zero targets.
“While the challenge of reducing emissions varies greatly by industry, and not all surveyed are yet clear on the route to meeting their ambitions, the intent to do more is clear. As we move beyond the pandemic, the pressure to address this question will only intensify. Thankfully the survey also suggests that new leaders are putting the issue front and centre.”
When broken by sector, the survey highlighted the following:
· Construction companies were the most likely to have set a net zero target (26%)
· Manufacturing companies were the least likely to have set a net zero target (73%)
· Manufacturers were the least confident about hitting their targets, with 34% confident
· Services providers were the most positive about hitting targets at 40%
Anecdotally, firms in energy-intensive parts of the manufacturing sector noted practical difficulties with meeting net zero emissions. Service providers suggested that data centres and transportation were the main factors holding back their ability to achieve net zero emissions.