UK companies seen missing sustainability targets due to COVID-19

by Sonia Elks | @SoniaElks | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 20 November 2020 18:43 GMT

FILE PHOTO: People walk across Millennium Bridge during rainy weather, in London, Britain, October 4, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

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Seven in 10 executives say their firms have put climate or sustainability initiatives on hold due to the pandemic, survey of business leaders shows

By Sonia Elks

LONDON, Nov 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - About two thirds of British companies expect to miss at least one of their sustainability targets as the coronavirus pandemic forces many to focus on staying afloat, a survey of 500 senior business leaders showed on Friday.

While seven in 10 said their firms had put climate or sustainability initiatives on hold, many thought a green recovery was vital for the nation's businesses and job creation, found the Opinium poll for the Ella's Kitchen baby food brand.

"For many firms, this year's priority has been survival... Coronavirus and the impact of restrictions have left businesses with significantly reduced bandwidth to meet climate targets," said James Martin from the British Chambers of Commerce.

"Our research finds that firms do want to be cleaner, greener and more sustainable. To do that, a lasting and visible partnership between government and business will be required," said Martin, the organisation's policy director.

About two thirds of respondents said the government must commit more funds to green economy initiatives, according to the poll conducted last month.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a climate plan this week which he said would create and support 250,000 highly skilled green jobs.

The survey also found 80% of bosses with children said their corporate sustainability policies were influenced by thinking about what the planet will look like for their children.

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(Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit

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