MORE than one-third of small businesses in Scotland say the long-term impact of Brexit is a more pressing concern than climate change.

Despite acknowledging the importance of environmental issues, owners of Scottish small businesses are less likely to prioritise tackling climate change than companies in other parts of the UK.

Just 11% said they were already a net-zero business, while almost half (47%) do not have a formal plan to achieve that status, compared with a 42% UK average.

A further 13% of Scottish small businesses say becoming a sustainable business is not important to them, compared to a 10% UK average.

Business owners in Scotland are also nearly twice as likely to say curbing carbon emissions is not a priority concern for their business (23% against a 14% UK average), while almost three in 10 (29%) say “greening” their supply chain is not a priority (18% UK wide).

The findings come from Novuna Business Finance’s Small Business Sustainability Report 2023, an annual report looking at attitudes among small businesses towards sustainability and the action they are taking themselves and within their supply chains.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf to meet with Rishi Sunak in-person for the first time in London

It found the cost of living crisis pushed back net zero as an immediate business priority in 2022 as financial worries dominated.

Scottish business owners are among the most likely to say other challenges have pushed tackling climate change down the list of priorities.

Most notably, 57% are grappling with the cost of living crisis (47% UK average), while 37% said the long-term impact of Brexit is a more pressing concern (23% UK average).

The research also found that businesses in Scotland are among the most likely to have frustrations with climate change inactivity within their sector and broader community.

Under three in 10 (29%) say cutting carbon emissions does not seem to be a priority within the business community (more than twice the national average of 13%).

Owners feel there are too many businesses that don’t seem to be taking carbon emissions seriously (27% versus a UK average of 24%), or that there is not enough happening more generally to reduce carbon emissions (24% vs 22% average).

However the report found some positive signs with nearly nine in 10 business leaders in Scotland saying the environment has become more important to them than a year ago.

“As the engine room of the economy, the importance of buy-in from small business leaders to the UK’s move to net zero cannot be understated,” said Geoff Maleham, managing director at Novuna Business Finance.

The National:

“Many small business owners have struggled to maintain a focus on net zero while grappling with the economic ravages of Covid and then a seismic cost of living crisis. There are also issues when it comes to information and guidance which urgently need to be tackled.”

He added: “While Scottish businesses are slightly behind with sustainability plans, the data shows there is still a strong desire from business leaders to address the pressing issues of climate change. The immediate challenge is to channel this into tangible outcomes.

“As the abundance of green alternatives for businesses increases, and with costs gradually decreasing as a result, the option for small businesses to go green becomes very real.

“Even with the cost of living crisis, we are quickly reaching the point where the green option is also the affordable one, which will be a win-win for everyone.”