A quarter of UK firms now measure their carbon footprint, while two-fifths have initiatives in place to reduce emissions, according to a new survey of 600 senior executives.
The study from Siemens Financial Services found that even where firms failed to calculate their entire carbon footprint, growing numbers were keeping a closer eye on energy use, with over half tracking power consumption and employee mileage.
Penny Shepherd, chief executive of financial services industry group the UK Social Investment Forum (UKSIF), underlined the sea change in business attitudes towards the environment. "To me, this report contains much good news," she said.
"It is impressive that over a quarter of firms are measuring their carbon footprint – a few years ago, the percentage would have been vanishingly small. Similarly, it is a good start that more than two in every five firms have implemented carbon emission reduction rules."
However, the report also revealed that many firms are finding it difficult to justify green investments. O
ver half claimed they could only authorise investments in low-carbon or energy efficient technologies if running costs were the same or lower than standard equipment, while a quarter claimed they did not have the capital to replace existing equipment with environmentally friendly alternatives regardless of any return on investment.
Rod Tonna-Barthet, director at Siemens Financial Services, said that both the government and providers of green products had to do more to make upfront costs for low-carbon products more bearable for companies.
"Not only do financing tools need to be more easily available for buyers to spread payments over a period of years, but the Government also needs to iron out the anomalies over how tax treatment, in the form of capital allowances, is applied," he said.
"UK businesses want to invest in greener infrastructure but there must be a clear business case for doing so. Whether these barriers are removed, through the joint efforts of equipment manufacturers, vendors, financiers and Government, will have a massive impact on the greening of British business."
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