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Scottish Economy

What are Businesses Doing to Support Climate Action?

The 2021 United Nations (UN) 26th Climate Change Conference (COP26) is scheduled to take place in Glasgow between 31 October – 12 November 2021.

The Fraser of Allander Institute will be discussing key economic issues surrounding climate change and climate change policies. We will also be highlighting a range of research related to COP26, from academic papers to pieces of commissioned research. To find out more, click here.

This article, taken from our latest Fraser of Allander Economic Commentary, summarises the findings from the latest Scottish Business Monitor for Q2 2021 and highlights the role and attitudes of businesses in supporting Scotland to achieve net zero by 2045.

SBM – results for Q2 2021

Almost half of all responding businesses (46.5%) reported that they had not set any targets to achieve net zero, with only 2% of businesses reporting that they had achieved their net zero targets. See Chart 1.

Around a quarter of businesses reported that they were committed to achieving by 2030, with another quarter reporting that they were committed but had not yet set any targets.

Chart 1: ‘Which statement most accurately describes your businesses targets for achieving a net zero carbon economy?’

Source: Scottish Business Monitor

The accommodation and food services, and the professional, scientific and technical sectors had the largest share of businesses reporting that they were committed to achieving net zero. See Chart 2.

Surprisingly, the transport and storage sector had the highest share of businesses who had not set a net zero target.

Chart 2: ‘Which statement most accurately describes your businesses targets for achieving a net zero carbon economy?’ Sectoral analysis

Source: Scottish Business Monitor

Reducing carbon footprint of office spaces was the most popular measure that businesses were currently taking to achieve net zero, followed by encouraging staff to use sustainable transport for commuting or business travel.

Chart 3: ‘What measures are you taking to help achieve net zero?’

Source: Scottish Business Monitor

Around a third of businesses had encouraged staff to use sustainable transport measures –

  • 60% of businesses had altered current space for bicycle storage facilities within their workplace, with a further 38% considering this measure. See Chart 4.
  • Over 70% of businesses reported that they were currently considering providing electric charge points for vehicles, with just under 70% considering incentivising staff to adopt sustainable transport to commute to work.

Chart 4: ‘Which of these sustainable transport measures are you currently providing or considering for the future?’

Source: Scottish Business Monitor

However, the decision for businesses to invest in sustainable transport depends on how many staff return to a tangible workplace.

More than 70% of businesses do not expect any of their staff to work from home full time, with only 1 in 10 businesses expecting more than half of their staff to work at home full time. See Chart 5.

This suggests that a large share of employees will return to physical workplaces when the rules allow. In fact, two thirds of responding businesses expect more than half of their staff to fully return to the workplace, of which 44% expect almost all their staff to return to the workplace.

Hybrid work models have also been at the forefront of discussion for businesses of late, with many staff being offered the opportunity to split their work time between the office and their home. 61% of businesses expect some proportion of their staff to work under a hybrid approach.

Chart 5: ‘Of staff that only worked in the workplace before the pandemic, what proportion do you expect will work from home full-time, part-time and not at all in the long term?’

Source: Scottish Business Monitor

Authors

Ben is an economist at the Fraser of Allander Institute working across a number of projects areas. He has a Masters in Economics from the University of Edinburgh, and a degree in Economics from the University of Strathclyde, as well as experience working on a variety of projects for public, private, and third sector organisations. He also focusses on business survey design and dissemination.