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From animal welfare to rising energy costs: SMEs say business resilience is their top climate priority

A guest blog from ECCI's Alison Wood, programme manager of the Climate Springboard programme. Alison recently attended the Royal Highland Show, with ECCI colleague Sarah Bissett, in a bid to meet Scottish SMEs who might be interested in signing up for the programme. The programme consists of a series of workshops aimed at helping businesses to reduce emissions and cut costs, in a supportive and encouraging environment.

It’s fascinating realising all the reasons that people are engaged in climate. Along with my colleague in the ECCI Climate Partnerships team, Sarah Bissett, I attended the Royal Highland Show, an event showcasing the best of food farming and rural life. We had a stall in the Royal Bank venue, which was aimed at offering us an opportunity to discuss their business support programme, Climate Springboard, which I deliver with colleagues at ECCI.

People from various businesses, from 1000-acre arable farms to alcoholic drinks manufacturers, dropped by to learn more about it. Each brought with them a different perspective on the importance of engaging in reducing carbon emissions.

For example, a sheep farmer was concerned for animal welfare, as hotter summers mean the animals overheat. Another worked in finance at a machine manufacturer whose rising electricity costs were at risk of putting them out of business. A third worked in sales in a food company that supplied supermarkets, and their next contract relied on them providing their carbon footprint. These people weren’t necessarily looking to reduce their emissions for the good of the planet; although many were concerned about it, they were looking for business resilience.

When our every day at ECCI is the frightening changes to our planet, it’s often easy to forget that people have different priorities. We don’t leave the light on because we don’t care, forget, are busy, or just haven’t noticed. Sometimes reframing carbon-cutting activities as financial savings or sales benefits can help encourage action. Better still, reframing them as opportunities! Who doesn’t want to save 10% off their electricity bill or feel like a better person because they planted some trees?

Thank you to the businesses who came to talk to us at the stand for reminding us that while your reasons for reducing your emissions might differ, they’re also valid. To everyone else, next time you’re trying to encourage someone to change for the planet, could you reframe it to something else?

Climate Springboard

ECCI runs Climate Springboard, a set of workshops to help Royal Bank customers to understand and reduce their footprint.

Climate Springboard is for businesses interested in learning how to reduce their emissions, whatever the reason. The course includes easy-to-use guides on creating a carbon footprint and reducing electricity consumption.

Just under 50 businesses have benefited from this training so far, including charities, hotels, laundrettes, schools, lawyers and manufacturers.