EU commission vice-president Antonio Tajani has encouraged European SMEs to ramp up investment in energy efficiency. Image courtesy of: Robert Linder/rgbstock.com
Small businesses must increase their investment in energy and resource efficiency if environmental policies are to succeed, according to the vice-president of the European commission
Antonio Tajani’s comments come after an in-depth analysis of how smaller firms are affecting climate chance and Government efforts to curb pollution.
The Eurobarometer survey
found that fewer than a quarter of small businesses in Europe are “actively engaged” in attempting to reduce their impact on the environment. Of these firms, most try to improve their energy efficiency. A similar number of SMEs are offering “green” products or services to customers.
Following the report’s release, Tajani told the Guardian
: "It is of huge importance that we bring small businesses forward in promoting green jobs, green products and services and in reducing their environmental impact. We cannot achieve our environmental goals without a strong focus on small- and medium-sized companies."
The vice-president added that greater efficiency and new opportunities in green markets would benefit the EU economy.
"[There is] huge untapped potential which will pay off with more innovation, more competitive SMEs [small to medium-sized enterprises] and more jobs."
The 23m small businesses in the Eurozone represent 99 percent of all businesses and employ around 90m people. And despite being responsible for around two-thirds of industrial carbon emissions, previous attempts to curb the carbon-intensity of European companies have focused on the larger firms and multinationals.
Failing to take further action on energy efficiency may also put small firms’ profits at stake if companies do not extent ‘green’ products and services to export markets. Just 26 percent of European SMEs offer greener products or services, compared to 30 percent in the US.
Tajani said: "Only very few European SMEs extend their green business to foreign markets. Knowing that the EU makes up roughly one third of the world market for environmental industries this reveals a huge potential for SMEs to grow."
There is some evidence that SMEs are actively engaging with the greener economy, with 60 percent of those surveyed saying they are trying to minimise waste, recycle goods and save money. Close to half said they were trying to save water.
Over a third (33 percent) also report having at least one employee in a “green job.”
When asked about the most important policy measures to incentivise investment in carbon reduction, roughly half of respondents cited financial incentives. A further quarter wanted information on how they could become more efficient.