UK Businesses Are Talking The Talk with Sustainability, But Are They Walking The Walk?

(Credit: Squeaky)

by | Dec 7, 2021

(Credit: Squeaky)

A new study by clean energy marketplace Squeaky found that the UK’s biggest businesses are woefully inadequate when it comes to positioning themselves to power their operations with clean energy.

The study, announced Monday, surveyed 250 sustainability and energy managers from the Financial Times Stock Exchange 250 index (FTSE250) or equivalent size that spend £1 million or more on energy.

More than a quarter (26%) of respondents reported not being committed to powering their business with clean energy at all. Of the 74% who acknowledged a commitment, most appear to lack the knowledge necessary to actually follow through. More than a quarter (27%) said they feel out of their depth in their role. When asked about their position:

  • One third (33%) said they were transferred from another department within the business (such as HR or finance) and are required to learn this role on the job.
  • Thirty four percent said they would like more formal sustainability training.
  • About three in ten (29%) said they are fully trained in sustainability, but procuring electricity is new to them.

It is thus unsurprising that many of these professionals are unaware of the true makeup of their fuel mix. When asked how they ensure their energy mix is what their providers say it is, 40% responded that they rely on the supplier’s word. Only 14% look at the supplier’s fuel disclosure mix.

Squeaky draws attention to the greenwashing occurring within these companies, who pay lip service to sustainability but continue to source their energy from fossil fuels. This is facilitated by loopholes in renewable energy certificates such as Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs). For every renewable unit of electricity generated by a clean energy provider, energy regulator Ofgem issues a REGO to the owner. However, under British law, these providers can sell the electricity and the certificates separately, which means businesses can purchase REGOs without actually sourcing any clean energy.

Britain is not the only country whose business community is shirking climate responsibilities: 87% of a sample of 300 US business leaders doubted being able to meet their sustainability goals, and 60% of European businesses say there is no incentive to become more sustainable.

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