Irish businesses are committed to climate change
The results are in from the latest in the Green Business Sentiment Index series and Irish businesses remain committed to climate change, despite a challenging environment. The research, carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes, highlights and measures how attitudes have changed among businesses towards renewable energy and the green recovery, over the past 10 months. 71% of those surveyed say sustainability and climate change have an impact on their decision making when it comes to purchasing and partnerships and 85% consider themselves to be environmentally friendly.
This is the second report in the series, following the first instalment in July 2020, which aims to gain a better understanding of, and demonstrate, the sentiment among Irish businesses when it comes to sustainability and green practices. It has been carried out against the background of Covid-19, with a focus on COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference that will be held in Glasgow this coming November.
There has been positive change in some areas over the past 10 months, but there is still some way to go for businesses to embrace the benefits of renewable energy. 47% of businesses are still unaware if their energy is renewable or not but 30% now claim to use renewable energy, an 8-percentage point improvement on July 2020. However, 47% still see cost as the main hurdle in reducing their carbon footprint, unchanged from July 2020. A quarter of businesses (26%) outside of Dublin do not agree that being ‘greener’ attracts more customers, versus a third (31%) of Dublin businesses. This is a shift on the July 2020 where a third of business (36%) in Dublin were not in agreement, versus a quarter (26%) of businesses outside of Dublin.
Klair Neenan, Managing Director of SSE Airtricity commented: “The findings from the first Green Business Sentiment Index last July provided valuable learnings in terms of understanding business sentiment regarding sustainability in Ireland. These findings were incorporated into our business approach in SSE Airtricity, helping us to work with business customers to demonstrate the green energy solutions we can provide and to overcome any perceived challenges associated with the supply of renewable energy.
“The results of the second instalment offer real promise as we’ve seen progress across a number of areas. It’s really encouraging to see that, despite the current challenges facing the Irish business community due to Covid-19 and economic recovery, there’s been an increase of 10-percentage points in the number of businesses that consider the issue of climate change to be of importance. Along with an increase of 11 percentage points in the number of businesses that say sustainability and climate change have an impact on decision making when it comes to purchasing and partnerships. This is hugely positive in terms of looking to a greener, net zero future. That sustainability and climate change remain a factor in the decision-making process is vital right now as we look ahead to COP26 in November, and what many are calling ‘the last best chance’ we have to tackle climate change”, continued Klair Neenan.
Key findings from the research include
- 83% still consider the issue of climate change to be important while in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic (up 10 points from July 2020)
- 71% say sustainability and climate change have an impact on their decision making when it comes to purchasing and partnerships (up 11 points from July 2020)
- 85% consider themselves to be environmentally friendly (unchanged from July 2020)
- 47% are unaware if their energy is renewable or not (unchanged from July 2020)
- 30% claim to avail of renewable energy (up 8 points from the July 2020)
- 47% still see cost as the main hurdle in reducing their carbon footprint (unchanged from July 2020)
- At least 23% claim to be not using renewable energy (down 6 points from July 2020)
- 78% of businesses feel that 100% green energy would have an influence on their energy purchasing decision (unchanged from July 2020)
- 42% believe that being a greener business attracts more customers (up 5 points from July 2020)
- One in three businesses (31%) in Dublin do not agree that being ‘greener’ attracts more customers, versus a third of Dublin businesses (up 5 points from July 2020)
- A quarter of businesses (26%) outside of Dublin do not agree that being ‘greener’ attracts more customers, versus a third of Dublin businesses (down 8 points from July 2020)
- 31% don’t know what retro-fitting is (up 4 points from July 2020)
- 78% of businesses feel Government supports would help influence them in considering retro-fitting (unchanged from July 2020)
- 67% of businesses are aware of the Government’s 2030 target for a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
- Just one in four businesses aware of that target are confident that the target can be achieved
Workplace practices are largely aligned to a more sustainable future, with many businesses taking steps to incorporate environmentally sustainable practices into their operations. These include:
- 35% have a cycle to work policy (up 5 points from July 2020)
- 68% of companies use keep cups and reusable packaging (down 5 points from July 2020)
- 38% have incorporated retrofitting into their premises (unchanged from July 2020)
- 20% have a car-pooling policy (down 5 points from July 2020)
- 14% have incorporated electric vehicles into their company (up 3 points from July 2020)
While these practices will have been impacted by Covid-19, the continued focus on sustainable practices supports findings that businesses remain committed to climate change and a green future.
Obstacles to Green Practices
Irish businesses see the cost of introducing sustainable measures an issue, with 47% claiming (unchanged from July 2020) cost as the main hurdle in reducing their carbon footprint. 15% don’t have enough information on methods of decarbonisation and currently one in three businesses in Ireland (up 4 percentage points from July 2020) don’t know what retro-fitting is.
The Road to Net Zero
While sentiment towards green energy and climate change is improving, and businesses are largely on board with sustainability practices, there appears to be a lack of confidence when it comes to Ireland’s ability to deliver on net zero ambitions. Almost seven in ten (67%) businesses are aware of the Government’s 2030 target for a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as Ireland works towards climate neutrality by 2050. However, when asked, just one in four (25%) of those businesses aware of the 2030 target, were confident that the target could be achieved.
Equally worrying, just five months out from the UN’s Climate Change Conference, almost two thirds (57%) of Irish businesses have not heard of COP26. The November gathering of global leaders will work to find the best solution to climate change as the world moves towards a net zero future.
Klair Neenan added; “The findings of this research highlight the urgency with which key decision makers need to be supported in understanding Ireland’s sustainability targets; and indeed, on the green energy solutions that are available in the market to support them in meeting these targets. Turning ambition into action is the best way to bring about confidence in Government’s targets and at SSE Airtricity we want to play our part in that.
“For over a decade now SSE Airtricity has been a leader in driving Ireland’s green energy revolution. As a principal partner to COP26, SSE is fully committed to supporting the drive to net zero across the UK and Ireland. We will continue to work with our customers across Ireland, providing efficient and cost-effective green energy solutions; and supporting them on the efforts that will help us achieve net zero”, continued Klair Neenan.
Find out more about how your business can make a big difference to the environment and the bottom line with our range of Energy Solutions.
Behaviour & Attitudes carried out this research on behalf of SSE Airtricity among a national representative sample of 352 business owners in Ireland. Fieldwork took place from 27 April – 13 May, conducted via telephone and online methodologies in line with Covid-19 restrictions.