Thursday 22 July 2021 7:00 am

Six million SMEs risk 'being forgotten' in net zero transition, banks warn

The UK’s six million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could be “forgotten or left behind” in the country’s net zero transition, warns Bankers for Net Zero in a report.

The initiative – supported by Barclays, Handelsbanken, Triodos, Ecology Building Society, ClearBank and Tide – argues that measures need to be implemented to avoid leaving SMEs unprepared to implement carbon reduction policies and regulations.

The briefing says big companies and high emitters have been the focus of government policies, which will ultimately affect all British enterprises.

Bankers for Net Zero are calling on banks and policymakers to ensure SMEs are supported. They represent 99 per cent of British businesses, employ a quarter of the population and account for 52 per cent of turnover.

The measures outlined include financial incentives that facilitate investments in decarbonising operations and offer lower interest rates and taxes.

The report also highlights the need for SMEs to access high-quality information on methods and options to finance the reduction of their carbon footprint. Standardising measurement and reporting of progress towards the net zero goal would also help SMEs navigate green finance schemes.

Without a coordinated effort between the government and the financial sector, SMEs could be unprepared to make net zero a priority. This would hinder the legally binding national target of being carbon neutral by 2050.