More than half of businesses in Sussex took action to cut their carbon emissions in 2021, according to businesses that responded to a new survey.

The survey is the largest of its kind to date on net zero planning among local businesses, launched by the Coastal West Sussex Partnership and Low Carbon Leaders – a network of climate-conscious businesses established by Brighton digital marketing agency Propellernet.

It found that 58 per cent of businesses who responded to the survey have taken action to reduce their carbon emissions in the past year. The survey also showed that 71 per cent of businesses understand “net zero” and 76 per cent consider it to be important to their business. However, 80 per cent said they had not measured their carbon footprint or set a carbon emissions reduction target, and 85 per cent are not currently investing in carbon offsetting.

Approximately 50 respondents were from the business community across a range of sectors, including companies in engineering and manufacturing, agriculture, property and construction, marketing, advertising, retail, IT and data services.

The results were revealed at an Ideas Exchange webinar on Business and Climate Change, hosted by the Coastal West Sussex Partnership and Worthing consultancy Always Possible, where business leaders could share their ideas about the support businesses need to support their journey to reach net zero.

Sam Zindel, Low Carbon Leaders

Low Carbon Leaders founder Sam Zindel, who has prioritised reaching net zero for his business Propellernet over the past two years, shared the survey results during the webinar and said: “It feels like we’ve made progress in mainstream business leaders understanding net zero and recognising it as relevant to them.

“While the majority of businesses have taken action to cut their carbon emissions, most of these steps were things like changing energy supplier or cutting down on business travel, rather than looking at purchased goods and services, which is often where a large chunk of carbon footprint lies.”

Adam Huttly, founder of sustainable office supplies company Red-Inc, shared his insights on the benefits of prioritising sustainability, having seen record growth and winning one of the biggest tenders in the industry due to Red-Inc’s sustainable model. Attendees also heard from James Bailey, chief executive of forward-thinking highways construction company Roadways, and Zoe Osmond, director at Clean Growth UK, who shared details on all the support available to businesses through the membership network.

Business leaders cited issues including a lack of funding, a lack of time and feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start as key barriers to reducing their carbon footprint.

Caroline Wood, Director at Coastal West Sussex Partnership, said: “It’s fantastic news that so many businesses see reducing their carbon emissions as important with many having taken action already.

“Sustainable growth is a top priority for the Coastal West Sussex Partnership and it’s our role to help businesses take action to address the climate crisis, while also boosting our coastal economy.

“Collaboration and knowledge-sharing is key here and this is just the start of the conversation: all the takeaways from our Ideas Exchange will be fed back to local leaders so we can help businesses get the support they need, and we will have further workshops in early 2022.”