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Never mind carbon emissions: Firms want to save money

200514612-001More than eight out of ten businesses say Government targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions are unrealistic, according to npower’s Business Energy Index (nBEI),  an annual report published today that tracks business opinion on energy use and carbon emissions.

The index also finds that significant numbers of firms do not see the benefit of a small carbon footprint and are relegating carbon reduction measures to concentrate on managing costs. The report is based on a survey of 200 small-to-medium-sized enterprises with significant energy usage and 100 major energy users.

Of the organisations polled, a majority — 83 per cent — said the target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 was unrealistic.  Only 31 per cent said they thought new business would occur as a result of reducing emissions, compared to 47 per cent in npower’s 2008 index.

The findings also reveal that the economic downturn is leading businesses to prioritise finances over carbon dioxide reduction, with 97 per cent saying they are more concerned with reducing costs than emissions.

While 68 per cent of businesses say it’s important for the UK to take a leading role in reducing global emissions, that’s a drop from 2008, when 88 per cent of businesses said they backed the Government’s emission reduction plans.

Despite those results, interest in energy efficiency is at its highest level since 2005, the index finds. Eighty per cent of businesses said they’re likely to increase energy efficiency initiatives. While this was primarily for cost benefit, the same measures would also lead to emission reductions.

“The index shows that most businesses do not see the commercial benefits from having a small carbon footprint, but we can’t escape the fact that climate change legislation and the strength of public feeling mean CO2 reduction remains important,” said Julia Lynch-Williams, director of energy services at npower. “The Government has set the UK on a path toward a low carbon economy and must now continue to stress to businesses the opportunities that will come from low carbon operations.”

She added, “Energy efficiency is an excellent way to save money and it’s encouraging that many businesses are looking at this to reduce costs. While it’s understandable that businesses are more focused on the bottom-line in the current economic crisis, we would encourage them to see energy management as an effective means of reducing emissions as well as costs.”

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