A new report suggests that small and medium sized businesses can be the engine room for responding to a carbon-constrained world.
The report "Green Chrysalis: Small and Medium Sized Enterprises – Innovation and Transformation Towards Australia's Low Carbon Economy" was funded by the Australian Business Foundation and the research carried out by UTS's Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF).
Professor Stuart White, picture by Joanne SaadProfessor Stuart White, picture by Joanne Saad
ISF Director Professor Stuart White said the debate over Australia's response to climate change and reducing energy consumption had been limited by a focus on the costs, and also on the big end of town.
"In terms of our national economic output and workforce employment, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) comprise 46 per cent and 42 per cent respectively," Professor White said. "They have a major role to play in addressing the national climate change challenge and in helping to drive new industries, innovation and capabilities for Australia."
The study was conducted over 12 months and involved a literature review, interviews with key experts in the field, workshops and case studies of SMEs.
"We found that those small businesses that have pursued low-carbon strategies had implemented a range of innovative responses, not only technical aspects, but also in 'soft aspects' including management and marketing."
The findings included that: "many SMEs that have adapted to or harnessed the conditions of the low-carbon economy have created opportunities for competitive advantage."
The report provides a set of recommendations for governments, industry associations, universities and SMEs regarding the kind of support that SMEs need to innovate and flourish in a lower carbon working environment.
"Our research found that the opportunities of a low-carbon economy are akin to a new green 'chrysalis' – a space where innovative transformations can, and are, taking place."
The report can be downloaded from the ISF website.