Nearly a quarter of businesses feel that they are not operating sustainably, according to a new report published by AIB.
23 per cent of the 300 businesses that responded to the survey said they were not operating sustainably, while 53 per cent felt they were operating “somewhat sustainably”.
When asked about their progress in implementing measures to deal with the environment, 34 per cent of businesses reported they were only beginning to address climate change and have a long way to go, while 6 per cent said that they "don’t know where to start".
Upfront investment costs was listed as the primary obstacle to operating sustainably, with 55 per cent of businesses mentioning it as a barrier.
Less than half (46 per cent) of organisations with more than 250 employees plan to spend over €100,000 on sustainability over the next two years, and 51 per cent of all organisations (any size), plan to spend less than €40,000.
Other barriers included uncertainty of return on investment (38 per cent) and a lack of clear sector guidelines or advice (35 per cent).
Most businesses (62 per cent) are aware of Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) as a potential source of advice to help them be more sustainable, but only 33 per cent of businesses have availed of advice from them.
30 per cent of businesses reported that they had not availed of advice from any public body.
Despite this, some businesses have taken steps over the past number of years to operate more sustainably.
Over the past two years, 44 per cent of businesses have demanded more sustainable actions from their suppliers or switched to more sustainable suppliers. 44 cent of businesses have also purchased more sustainable equipment.
Speaking about the research, AIB Chief Executive Colin Hunt said: “Businesses will play a pivotal role in delivering Ireland’s carbon emission targets for 2030.
“However, it is clear that many of them see the upfront costs of this as presenting an initial challenge.
“Given the scale and growing importance of the climate change and sustainability agenda, banks need to play their part in supporting SMEs in the transition to a greener future by enabling them to make the right investments to deliver greater efficiency and a lower carbon footprint,” he said.
The research comes ahead of AIB’s 6th annual Sustainability Conference on 17th October. Speakers will include Dr. Jane Goodall DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, and Cate Blanchett, Global Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and award-winning actor.