Our environment - Going 'green' is the way forward
We are always being told to be more environmentally friendly — but are the costs prohibitive? The survey suggests that most Norfolk tourism businesses are keen to go green.
Environmental experts regularly cite the benefits to business of “going green” and it appears that the issue is close to the hearts of many Norfolk businesses. Responses repeatedly state that working in the countryside gives a strong understanding of environmental issues, while being based on the coast makes them wary of the risk of rising sea levels. Just over half (54pc) say that they will look to reduce their environmental impact in the coming year.
It was encouraging to see that 54pc of the companies taking part in the survey intend to act to reduce their carbon footprint in the next 12 months.
Comments include that “the Broads rely on responsible tourism”; “we encourage our guests to help us recycle as much as possible — also reducing energy increases profit”.
However, almost half (49pc) stated that they thought going ‘green’ would increase their costs, while 29pc thought it would have no financial impact. Only 22pc thought it could save them money.Another respondent notes that they “need to reduce carbon footprint”, and it is here that there is a potential lack of information and a little more cause for concern. Only 8pc of businesses know their carbon footprint, and of the other 92pc there are mixed messages about whether they intend to act on this issue.
Although 58pc knew where to get advice on the environmental performance of their business, there would appear to be an educational opportunity to target the 42pc who did not and, at the same time, show them the benefits and cost savings they could make.
Some seemed not to want to know, with comments such as “sick to death of hearing about people going green” and “the scare tactics employed are to provide an excuse for raising yet more tax”. One person states: “We invest to get a return. If we installed a heat pump, wind turbine and solar panels, we would be in debt very quickly!”
More typical are comments citing time and costs as prohibitive.
However, as the graph shows, 83pc said that environmental issues were important or of some interest to their business. Of course there will always be some aspects of tourism that can only go so far. As one person says of their business, “a steam railway is, per se, not environmentally friendly!”
But overall the issue appears to be simply a case of not knowing where to start.
Marcus Armes, of the CRed carbon reduction unit at UEA, said: “It was encouraging to see that 54pc of the companies taking part in the survey intend to act to reduce their carbon footprint in the next 12 months. Unsurprisingly, many businesses cited cost savings as the major driver for reducing their energy demand. As fuel prices continue a relentless upward march, I am sure that future surveys will see even greater numbers taking resource efficiency seriously.
“Interestingly, cost also featured as a reason for inaction, particularly when it comes to installing renewable energy, which many respondents felt was simply too expensive despite the rising costs of oil and gas. It is unreasonable in the current economic climate to expect businesses to put longterm savings ahead of short-term profits, or in some cases, sheer survival. Therefore, if we are to encourage the uptake of renewables, then we have to reduce their cost to business.
“I think the most worrying aspect of the survey was the large number of organisations which were totally unaware of their carbon footprint.
“Even if a business does not accept the need for action on climate change, surely it makes sense to monitor energy use more closely, as it is only when you start to meter and monitor energy use that you can really start to make a stab at reducing the costly waste of energy.”