Scotland’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are almost twice as likely as their larger counterparts to feel underprepared for dealing with a changing climate, according to figures published today by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The findings prompted calls from the organisation for more advice and support for SMEs, which it called the “backbone of Scotland’s economy”, to take advantage of green opportunities and create sustainable businesses.
A survey of 300 firms, commissioned by WWF Scotland and conducted by Censuswide, shows that only two in five of Scotland’s smaller firms feel prepared for risks posed by climate change, while more than three-quarters of larger corporations said they are either “fully prepared or somewhat prepared”.
Only 15 per cent of SMEs reported that their business sector had received clear direction from the Scottish Government on how it can best contribute to tackling climate change.
The poll also revealed that larger businesses are nearly four times more likely than SMEs to be aware of the potential risks that climate change could pose to their business.
The survey sample included 150 SMEs and the same amount of firms with more than 250 employees. Scottish Government figures show that SMEs account for 99.3 per cent of private sector enterprises and support an estimated 1.2 million jobs.
Gina Hanrahan, head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: “These findings should ring a warning bell for our political and business leaders that many of the smaller companies that form the backbone of Scotland’s economy are ill prepared for the very real effects of climate change.
“Climate change poses many chronic and severe risks to our economic stability and our social fabric. But the actions we need to tackle it, like building warmer homes, developing new modes of transport and modernising how we grow our food, will also present huge innovation and economic opportunities for forward-thinking businesses in Scotland.
“But, it is clear from this polling that Scotland’s SMEs need more support and advice if they are to make the most of those opportunities and ensure their businesses have sustainable futures.”
Garth Gulland, owner of Roots, Fruits and Flowers, a Glasgow-based fruit and vegetable merchant, said: “This year proved to be challenging, with the very dry summer meaning many of our UK-grown fruit and vegetables were affected.
“The UK isn’t used to such hot, prolonged spells of weather and therefore growers aren’t as prepared to deal with it, resulting in many soft fruits and salad crops being ruined.
“Businesses like mine need more support to prepare for the consequences of our changing climate, and more support to reduce our own impacts on the environment would be very welcome, too.”