UK Businesses Face Climate Challenge

Published on:
by KnowESG,

Aviva plc

KnowESG_UK Businesses Face Climate Challenge
Image courtesy of Aviva

The past year has seen a significant surge in the number of UK companies proactively developing strategies to combat climate change, as revealed by Aviva's annual Climate-Ready Index.

A remarkable 44% of UK businesses have now embraced structured plans aimed at curbing their carbon emissions and climate impact, marking a substantial increase from the 34% reported just one year ago. This heightened focus on climate action underscores the growing apprehension among corporations regarding the profound consequences of climate change.

The UK corporate landscape is responding to mounting pressure from consumers and fellow businesses to address environmental concerns. A striking 45% of companies now feel the weight of consumer expectations to take action on climate, up significantly from 30% only a year prior. Likewise, 39% sense the push from other businesses to implement climate-related initiatives, marking a substantial rise from the 27% figure recorded in 2022.

According to Aviva's analysis, the most popular measures being adopted by these companies include energy-saving initiatives, such as conserving power by switching off lights, a heightened adoption of renewable energy sources like solar power and ground source heat pumps, and more extensive waste recycling efforts.

Despite the prevailing economic challenges, a noteworthy proportion of businesses intend to reduce water consumption and establish relationships with sustainable suppliers. It's worth noting that 42% of companies have temporarily paused investments in carbon footprint reduction, citing the current infeasibility of such endeavours. Additionally, 56% of UK businesses find the costs associated with reducing their carbon impact to be presently unaffordable.

While Aviva's Climate-Ready Index paints a varied picture of the UK's overall progress in climate adaptation and mitigation, it indicates a shift in the nation's standing as a climate action leader.

Despite the gradual evolution of climate policies, including the introduction of the Carbon Budget Delivery Plan, Net Zero Growth Plan, and Energy Security Plan over the past year, recent dilutions in government net zero commitments pose an even greater challenge to meeting future targets. This development introduces uncertainty and potentially jeopardises opportunities for UK businesses to capitalise on green growth.

The report highlights concerns regarding the UK's focus on short-term energy security over long-term sustainability. Notably, the decision to expand domestic oil and gas production has raised concerns, especially considering the UK's position as Europe's second-largest oil and gas producer and the absence of a clear policy framework to phase out such extraction.

Amanda Blanc, Group Chief Executive Officer of Aviva plc, expressed her worries about the stalled progress in UK climate action, emphasising the need for practical and detailed plans to safeguard the nation's ambitious climate goals.

Despite these challenges, she acknowledges the increasing efforts of UK businesses to address climate change, emphasising the urgent necessity for a comprehensive national transition plan that enables the UK to compete effectively on a global scale and become the most climate-ready major economy by 2030.

In response to the findings, Aviva is calling on the UK government to accelerate the transformation of the national economy and financial system to achieve climate readiness.

This entails the creation of a comprehensive national Climate Transition Plan with annual progress reporting and an expansion of sustainability reporting requirements to ensure robust transition planning by listed businesses, financial institutions, and large corporations in alignment with the Transition Plan Taskforce's gold standard framework.

The Aviva Climate-Ready Campaign is a pivotal initiative that aims to position the UK as the world's most climate-ready large economy by 2030. This involves reducing carbon emissions and adapting to climate change's adverse effects, both locally and as part of the global community. Aviva will continue to announce various actions and support measures to assist the UK in achieving climate readiness and establishing itself as the leading climate-ready major economy within the G7 by 2030.

The Climate-Ready Index, used by Aviva, assesses a country's climate readiness across four key areas: Emissions and Mitigations, Environment and Adaptation, Economy & Business, and Society and Community. It evaluates performance in 11 measures, including emission reduction, biodiversity conservation, resilient infrastructure development, community and small business preparedness, and international assistance for climate adaptation.

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Source: Aviva

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