Reduce your carbon emissions

The Carbon Footprint Calculator, which is provided in conjunction with The CarbonNeutral Company, takes information about the SME’s energy usage, waste and travel – the three main sources of CO2 – and calculates a report on the company’s CO2 emissions. The company will also be presented with suggestions of ways to reduce emissions and with the opportunity to offset the carbon footprint. The calculator is supported by a guide, which includes details of proactive measures SMEs can take to reduce and offset their carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency.

AXA is concerned that many small businesses are not considering the serious risks of climate change to their business. For example, AXA’s own research of businesses in high flood risk areas has found that:

  • Only one in three small business leaders feel that the effects of climate change, such as flooding, is a serious threat to their business, despite the average cost of flood damage reaching around £12,000.
  • As many as two out of three of small businesses do not have a practical contingency plan in case of being affected by severe weather. 35% of businesses affected by flooding said that they lost 1 – 5 working days as a result.
  • Amongst those who have been affected by flooding, 62% have no insurance for business interruption.

Separate research of more than 2,000 SMEs carried out in April 2008 also found that some 55% of SMEs felt their businesses contribute to climate change, but that less than 6% of them have chosen green energy suppliers. Around one in three (36%) recycle and one quarter use environmentally friendly products. While 25% of the businesses surveyed say they encourage staff to conserve energy, only 9% have a green travel plan.

SMEs are the lifeblood of the nation’s economy accounting for 58.9 % of all employment and 51.9% of turnover in the UK3 and contribute significantly to the nation’s carbon footprint. The amount of CO2 produced varies from business to business. The following are examples of three different companies:

  • A marketing consultancy in central London with 11 full-time staff calculated it produces 15.9 tonnes of CO2
  • A medium-sized car dealership in Somerset with around 50 staff produces 79.44 tonnes per year.
  • A provider of risk management solutions based in Dorset with around 60 staff produces 103.56 tonnes.

The main factors contributing to the differences between these companies included the amount of travel carried out by employees of the firms, the amounts of waste produced and energy usage. (Comparisons are shown in Notes to Editors).

Doug Barnett, Head of Customer Risk Management at AXA said, “With an estimated 4.5 million small enterprises in the UK, the SME community needs to take responsibility for its impact on the environment and not leave green efforts solely to large corporations. The Carbon Trust estimates that SMEs are responsible for around 20 per cent of all carbon emissions in the UK4. By offering SMEs a tool with which to benchmark emissions and a guide containing a range of ideas on how to reduce carbon footprints for a range of budgets we hope to encourage positive action.”

Jonathan Shopley, Executive Director, The CarbonNeutral Company, said: “Our experience working with SMEs indicates that they are concerned about the potential resource implications of ‘going green’ in terms of time and cost. This is why we are so pleased to be working with AXA on this Carbon Calculator as it streamlines the process and allows SMEs to take action themselves.

“The Calculator helps SMEs to assess the main sources of carbon dioxide emissions and those businesses that reduce their emissions to net zero through internal and external reductions will be eligible to use the CarbonNeutral® brand mark.”