Small Scottish firms face climate change timebomb, finds study

Fruit and vegetable merchants say the year has been very challenging with the dry summer meaning many crops were affected
Fruit and vegetable merchants say the year has been very challenging with the dry summer meaning many crops were affected
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Smaller Scottish companies are less prepared to deal with the impact of climate change compared to larger firms, new polling suggests.

A lack of direction from Government are among the concerns of firms who could see the prices of raw produce from crops increase, while energy costs also go up.

Only two in five of Scotland’s small and medium-sized firms feel prepared to deal with the risks, according to a survey of 300 businesses commissioned by WWF Scotland. More than three-quarters of larger businesses stated they are either fully or partly prepared.

They dwarfed smaller firms in the proportion of responses suggesting climate change does pose a threat, with 85 per cent of big business agreeing it is a risk compared to 23 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises SMEs.
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 climate change, 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.”

Garth Gulland, owner of Glasgow fruit and veg merchant Roots, Fruits and Flowers, 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. The cost of some staples, like potatoes, doubled during the year. Businesses like mine need more support to prepare for the consequences of our changing climate.”

Stuart Mackinnon, external affairs manager for the FSB in Scotland said it was “unsurprisingly” that smaller firms are less prepared for the impact of climate change than their larger counterparts. Policy makers need to help smaller firms play their part in reducing emissions and prepare for the future. They must also be careful that regulatory environmental interventions are cleverly designed so that they don’t have a disproportionate impact on smaller operators.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are determined to ensure that all businesses in the country, large and small, have the necessary guidance and support in place to help prepare for the risks that come with the threat of climate change.”