b2b International

Who should take action to prevent climate change? 

Many people think it should be governments and large multinational corporates that lead the way. However, SMEs have a key part to play as well. 

SMEs represent about 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide. Yet SMEs are often not the target for tools or resources to help them reduce carbon emissions, limiting their ability to effectively implement strategies to engage in carbon reduction activities.

The Carbon Trust, a global climate change and sustainability consultancy who commissioned this research, has been working with SMEs to help them lower their carbon footprints for many years through a number of initiatives. It recently concluded a three-year programme, the Green Business Fund, which provided support to SMEs in England, Scotland and Wales to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy costs.

The Carbon Trust approached B2B International to better understand UK SMEs’ attitudes toward sustainability, covering the barriers and opportunities around energy efficiency actions and what motivates SMEs to act on energy efficiency. A similar survey was conducted in the first year of the Green Business Fund, allowing this project to also help identify trends in the sector.

What We Did

Project success depended on two factors. Firstly, ensuring the collection of enough qualitative information to get a detailed understanding of SMEs’ attitudes. Secondly, conducting a large enough number of interviews to quantify results and to ensure external validity – allowing the research findings to be accurately extrapolated to, and be representative of, the entire UK market.

To meet these criteria a multi-methodological approach was applied to complete a total of n=564 interviews. The majority of the completes came from online panel surveys (n=500) which formed the basis of the quantitative measurement. This was also supplemented with n=64 telephone interviews which lasted approximately 30 minutes and allowed us to add rich qualitative insight to the research project.

In addition to the topic of the research, telephone study participants had a tree planted on their behalf by EcoMatcher resulting in over 60 trees being planted in Uganda. It was the first time B2B International has used this type of incentive and we will use it more in the future.

 The Outcome

The research findings were published by the Carbon Trust in a report which can be found here.

The research found that by far the biggest barrier preventing SMEs acting was a lack of resources (time and money). Even for engaged SMEs that are planning to implement an energy policy, a lack of time and money was cited by 46% as a barrier, compared to 15% or lower for other barriers.

This finding is supported by the Carbon Trust’s experience of working with SMEs through programmes such as the Green Business Fund. There is clearly still demand within the sector for support and advice if it is to play its part in reducing climate emissions. 

For more information on this project or how B2B International can help your business contact:

Matthew Powell – Managing Director of B2B International London 

Joe Boag – Research Manager at B2B International Singapore