A new report is encouraging non-environmental charities and social enterprises to take action on climate change in the run up to COP26.

Social Enterprise Network Scotland (SenScot) and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) have combined the findings of surveys to create the Third Sector Net Zero report. It finds that while charities and social enterprises want to do more to tackle climate change, they are not yet taking action to do so. The majority are not measuring their carbon footprint, they don’t have environmental policies, and few are confident their energy is supplied by renewables.

The report also reveals that we need to get better at making the connection between social issues and environmental issues, with 66% of respondents putting social outcomes as their top priority and just under half saying the environment is either not important or only moderately important to their charitable purposes.

It’s clear that many organisations want to make changes but don’t know how to start and are worried it will be time consuming and difficult. The report highlights that 68% of organisations who do not measure their carbon footprint would like to, 54% believe the environment is very or extremely important and 65% are trying to reduce, reuse or recycle their waste.

Anna Fowlie, Chief Executive of SCVO, said: “This timely report – just months before the big COP26 conference in Glasgow – shows how much work needs to be done across the voluntary sector to understand and address the climate emergency. I believe there is an opportunity for the voluntary sector to play an important role in enabling Scotland to achieve a just transition to net zero, ensuring that everyone benefits from a greener future and that the disproportionate impact on already disadvantaged groups are mitigated.  In the run up to COP26, SCVO will be running events and activities to share learning so we can all get to grips with this fundamental issue.”

Pauline Gordon, Director of SENScot, said: “It’s clear from this report that Scotland’s third sector needs more support to start making changes to their operations to transition to net zero. Earlier this year, we launched the Social Enterprise Net Zero Strategy to provide a framework for SENScot and partners to support social enterprises to do more to tackle climate change and reduce their carbon footprint. Environment is a key motivator for many social enterprises, so we’re confident the sector will embrace the changes they need to make over the coming years.”

SCVO has created a Top Tips for Starting Your Journey to Net Zero guide to coincide with the launch of this report.

Read report author Pauline Hinchion’s blog on what this report means for your organisation.

Read the full report