Climate change, Carbon, and AI

Climate change, Carbon, and AI

Provisional figures released by the Met Office have revealed that in March 2024, the UK saw 127% of average rainfall and 87% of average sunshine levels. Despite this lack of sunshine, overall temperatures in the UK were one degree above average, with England seeing the seventh warmest March since 1884. Internationally, the EU’s climate change site, Copernicus, has reported that globally March was the hottest on record; the tenth month in a row to beat previous records. Copernicus also reported global sea temperatures in March to be the highest on record.

With this in mind, it was interesting to see the latest ONS Business Insights report reveal that 52% of businesses have reported that they are not concerned about the impact of climate change, up 10% from February. It may well be that this lack of concern is as a result of initiatives launched by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and other bodies. With mandatory climate change reporting for larger companies, and recommendations for other companies to consider climate risk, it is possible that businesses may have already factored climate impacts in to their models and therefore report being less concerned than they otherwise might be.

Interestingly, when it comes to contributing to reducing emissions, the most reported action by businesses was to switch to LED bulbs; with around 30% of businesses looking to follow this route. Twenty-five percent of businesses also admitted to adjusting heating and cooling systems, with the adoption of smart meters, insulation, and electrifying vehicles also coming in for a mention. Some 35% of businesses reported not taking any action.

It has to be noted that only some 27% of businesses approached for the latest ONS survey provided a response. This though is in line with previous surveys so trend analysis is perhaps more robust than a low level of response such as this might imply. Another highlight from the survey was that 14% of businesses reported that they are currently using some form of AI technology, a rise of 10% from December 2023. When it comes to large businesses the figure is higher at 24%, up 5% from December.

Finally, on a positive note for the UK economy, 10% of businesses reported that they expected their capital expenditure to increase between April and June 2024. Although this percentage is fairly low, it is in line with ONS surveys from previous months, perhaps reflecting unchanged confidence in the UK economy.

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