Just 41% of UK organisations are on track to meet the Government’s target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050, according to new research released today by Dr Chris Brauer, Goldsmiths, University of London in partnership with Microsoft.
The findings reveal strong ambition and strategic vision on sustainability within UK organisations, but most leaders are struggling to translate that intent into action, with almost three quarters (74%) described as having “one foot in and one foot out” on sustainability.
Based on surveys of 1,707 UK leaders and 2,153 employees, the research report includes insights from leading British organisations, as well as prominent sustainable business experts from across government, industry and academia.
The ambition-action gap has not gone unnoticed by UK workers. According to the survey, the majority (72%) of financial services employees feel that environmental sustainability should be a top priority for businesses over the next five years, yet only 23% report that their employer implements their current sustainability plan efficiently. Tellingly, only 22% of financial services employees believe their work premises are as environmentally friendly as their own home. This is important, as over half (52%) of financial services employees surveyed said the strength of a firms’ sustainability plan would impact where they choose to work.
The challenges for businesses and a blueprint for net zero
The report points to the most pressing sustainability challenges identified by UK leaders in meeting net zero goals and outlines a practical blueprint of short- and long-term actions to overcome them. When asked to identify their top three most pressing challenges in the next five to 10 years, the financial services organisations surveyed believed these are:
· Actioning the strategy – Concerns about having a clear organisational sustainability strategy (46%)
· Skills – Having in-house expertise and skills to support a sustainability strategy (40%)
· Influencing corporate thinking – 38% cite changing corporate thinking towards a more environmentally sustainable business operations, well above the national average (26%)