For many businesses, worries about their environmental impact and climate change have taken a back seat in recent months to concerns about surviving the recession.
But according to Business Link’s Martin Woods, who advises businesses across the south west on finding the support they need to reduce their carbon footprint, the two issues are closely connected.
He said: “After the credit crunch, it’s easy to forget that one of the main stimuli of recession in 2008 came when oil prices went over $100-a-barrel to drive up the cost of fuel. Today, the oil price is on the rise again, and it is inevitably going to follow an upwards momentum in years to come as we approach what’s called the ‘Peak Oil’ point – the moment when the maximum level of petroleum extraction is reached, after which it goes into terminal decline.
“Opinions differ as to when this will be,” he added. “What is certain is that it will happen, and that it will inevitably drive oil and gas prices to new heights. This will make reducing consumption and finding alternatives a financial necessity.”
This is one reason why Business Link itself has achieved the environmental best practice ISO 14001 standard, which is already helping it cut costs by minimising travel, energy use and other activities that drive up its waste and consumption levels.
To help other businesses achieve the same, Business Link Advisers right across the region now address environmental issues with clients as part of a general diagnosis of their business performance. According to Woods: “If we establish together that they need help with reducing their energy bills or improving their resource efficiency, we can then put them in touch with experts who can help them.
“We are many years from suffering the full impact of climate change in the south west,” he said. “But businesses can already save money by putting in place carbon-reduction strategies. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the Government will be introducing ‘carrot and stick’ regulation that rewards those reducing more than their share and penalising under-performance. We can also guide businesses in how to protect themselves by using Climate Change Adaptation techniques to prepare for what lies in store.”