Small businesses in the UK are ahead of their larger peers in prioritising the environment to deal with a global emergency on climate change, according to new research.

As per the research by Novuna Business Finance, nine in ten or 89% of small business owners are actively working to reach net zero. The study has found that more than 13% or one in ten small businesses believed that they are already operating at net zero.

While 45% of small businesses are taking steps to reduce carbon, 31% have laid out net zero plans and are moving towards it.

Furthermore, the steps that have been taken or are being taken show that small businesses are acting on the demands of customers and staff who are urging climate action.

Small business owners have said that their employees have been supporting measures, such as adopting car sharing (16%), reducing business travel (15%), repurposing rather than throwing away (13%) and recycling (11%).  

Meanwhile, customers have voiced concerns in areas, such as the use of less packaging (12%), re-evaluating the sustainability of suppliers (10%), using less plastic (9%) and putting the case forward for electric vehicles (7%).

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The research also found that 38% of small businesses are willing to drive positive action by being the change in their supply chain and influencing the behaviour of others.

Novuna Business Finance head of insight Jo Morris said: “Having been reliant on fossil fuels in industry and at home for so long, this move to net zero is a really challenging one for many of us all over the world – and the recent heatwave has only brought further urgency to the need for us all to adapt new planet-positive approaches to life and business.

“With extreme weather now affecting communities all over the world, there really is no time like the present. We all still have a long way to go on the journey to net zero, but it is becoming apparent that there is much to learn from the UK small business community who have already started creating ripples that will continue to drive change”.

BNP Paribas LS UK sells contract hire business to Novuna