Environment survey

A NEW environment survey of over 3,000 firms, released recently by the British Chambers of Commerce, which included feedback from Norfolk Chamber members, has calculated that UK businesses have made £1.

A NEW environment survey of over 3,000 firms, released recently by the British Chambers of Commerce, which included feedback from Norfolk Chamber members, has calculated that UK businesses have made £1.1bn in energy efficiency savings over the last 12 months.

With the economy stalling and companies left facing painfully high energy bills, one of the few positive developments is the focus businesses are placing on climate change by improving their energy efficiency.

The findings emphasise the urgent need for the a co-ordinated targeted approach to assist business in the drive towards a low carbon economy, to capitalise on this fresh momentum, especially if the UK's ambitious 2050 carbon emission targets are to be met.

Where the government has been too slow to engage with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), they must now take advantage of this energy efficiency push and refocus on assisting more SMEs - the business sector most in need of help and one which contributes over 50 per cent of all business energy usage.

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The report entitled, Business and the Environment: Challenges Ahead, surveyed companies nationwide to ascertain the current business opinion on climate change and the environment. Norfolk's results mirror the national key picture in the majority of the findings. Some of the key findings include:

• Nearly nine out of 10 companies reported that they recycle. However on using energy efficient products Norfolk is ahead with nearly two thirds of Norfolk businesses reporting using energy efficient products whereas nationally the number is just over half.

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• A third of businesses provide training to their employees to reduce emissions while a quarter have developed energy management policies to limit their impact on the environment.

• Only a third of businesses stated that climate change is low on their priorities in these economically challenging times.

• Nine out of 10 respondents claimed that energy costs were likely to influence their response to climate change.

• Half of respondents stated that climate change was a significant issue for their business though more thought it would become a significant issue over the next five years.

• 62 per cent of businesses claim the most effective policy Government can use in reducing carbon emissions are energy efficiency policies.

• Just a quarter of businesses had used at least one of the Carbon Trust's services suggesting the majority of businesses are left without assistance.

• Over half of the respondents felt that their employees were likely to influence their company's response to climate change however three quarters felt it was their customers who would be the real influence.

Caroline Williams, Chief Executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “A co-ordinated approach is needed to ensure that Norfolk businesses obtain the information they need to help them minimise the risks of climate change and maximise their cost saving opportunities.

“The Norfolk Chamber is determined to help build on the good work already being done by local businesses by helping them understand what opportunities are available, share best practise and cut through the jargon and confusion surrounding this issue.”

Commenting on the survey findings, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, David Frost, said: “Over the last year a majority of businesses have shown a real appetite for reducing energy usage and as a result the environment has been pushed to the top of their agenda.

“If the Government is going to meet ambitious emissions targets, it needs to refocus the Carbon Trust onto the wider business community where they stand the best chance of hitting these targets. Businesses are clearly doing their bit, but if the Government is serious about reaching the targets they will have to step up their game.”

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