26 Jan 2008

Can UK business afford a low carbon economy?

British business wants to invest in low-emission equipment, but limited product range and financing options coupled with too few tax breaks, stand in the way

One in four UK companies now measures its carbon footprint, and two fifths of British firms have implemented carbon emission reduction initiatives. However, many are be-ing held back from investing further in low-emission equipment due to the uneven appli-cation of tax breaks, issues of affordability and lack of product choice. These are the key findings of a research report into UK companies’ environmental attitudes and their investment in low-emission technology and equipment, commissioned by Siemens Fi-nancial Services.

The report calls for greater incentives to invest in environmentally-friendly equipment; including a move towards more consistent application of capital allowances from spe-cific technology categories (such as vehicles) to the inclusion of all equipment catego-ries meeting defined low-emission standards.

Equipment manufacturers are also encouraged to extend their ”green” product ranges; and vendors are encouraged to make equipment finance more easily available, so that upgrading to more environmentally-friendly equipment does not mean the buyer has to absorb a major (and often unaffordable) capital outlay.

Commenting on the report, Rod Tonna-Barthet, Director, Siemens Financial Services, explains, “This independently conducted research amongst British businesses provides a really encouraging picture, but also reveals some serious barriers to a significant in-crease in low-emission equipment investment. Not only do financing tools need to be more easily available for buyers to spread payments over a period of years; but the Government also needs to iron out the anomalies over how tax treatment, in the form of capital allowances, is applied. UK businesses want to invest in greener infrastructure, but there must be a clear business case for doing so. Whether these barriers are re-moved, through the joint efforts of equipment manufacturers, vendors, financiers and Government, will have a massive impact on the greening of British business, and con-sequently helping to create a better environment for everyone.”

Commenting on the Siemens report, Penny Shepherd MBE, Chief Executive, UK Social Investment Forum (UKSIF), adds, “To me, this report contains much good news. It is impressive that over a quarter of firms are measuring their carbon footprint – a few years ago, the percentage would have been vanishingly small. Similarly, it is a good start that more than two in every five firms have implemented carbon emission reduction rules.

“Of course, the future of our economy, our children and our communities demands that these percentages grow and that monitoring is backed up by increases in practical ac-tion – particularly the move to ever more efficient equipment. Earlier this year, the UK Social Investment Forum (UKSIF), with the assistance of the Carbon Trust, the Finance and Leasing Association and leading asset finance companies, produced the report ‘Green Opportunity: Accelerating the Financing of Low Carbon Assets’. That highlighted the key role of asset finance in enabling British businesses to invest in low carbon busi-ness equipment.”

Key findings from the report are:-

  • A majority of companies measure some emission-relevant factors – power con-sumption (54%) and employee mileage (61%) – but only because these have an imme-diate impact on costs. However, a significant minority of firms (26%) also now measure their overall carbon footprint
  • 41% of British firms have implemented carbon emission reduction rules in their organisation, and 37% have invested in low carbon/energy-efficient business equipment
  • For investment in low carbon/energy-efficient equipment to grow, 57% of firms say that the running costs must be the same or lower than standard equipment
  • Higher costs, lack of a clear return-on-investment (ROI) and limited product range are seen as the principal obstacles to growth in low carbon/energy-efficient equip-ment investment growth
  • A quarter of British businesses say they simply do not have the capital to replace existing equipment with environmentally friendly alternatives
  • Competitive pricing, greater availability of integrated financing options, and more widely applicable tax incentives are seen as critical to encouraging greater investment in environmentally friendly business equipment

Click here to download the report


The UK Social Investment Forum (UKSIF) is the membership network for sustainable and responsible financial services. It promotes responsible investment and other forms of finance that support sustainable economic development, enhance quality of life and safeguard the environment. It also seeks to ensure that individual and institutional investors can reflect their values in their investments.

UKSIF was launched in 1991 to bring together the different strands of sustainable and responsible finan-cial services within the UK and to act as a focus and voice for the industry. It’s 200+ members and affili-ates include institutional and retail fund managers, investment banks, retail banks and building societies, pension funds, investment consultants, financial advisers, socially responsible investment (SRI) research providers, trade unions, community development finance institutions and non-governmental organisa-tions.

About Siemens Financial Services Limited

Siemens Financial Services is a leading provider of innovative finance solutions to UK businesses and public sector organisations. With more than 250,000 customers Siemens has arranged finance for 90 of the current FTSE 100 companies and more than 50% of NHS trusts and local authorities. Siemens’ unique heritage enables it to offer its customers a compelling combination of industrial, technological and financial expertise.

The business provides solutions ranging from £1,000 to many millions for a diverse range of financing needs, including equipment and asset finance, treasury services and working capital finance. It is active in a wide range of markets including healthcare, public sector, professions, IT, telecoms, office equipment and vehicles among many others. For many years the company has run highly sophisticated vendor finance programmes, underpinned by ease-elease, its highly innovative online lease tool.

Siemens is independently recognised as a business finance leader in a number of its core markets. Amongst its many accolades Digital Networks Limited (DNL), a supplier of marketing and online services to the asset finance industry, published research highlighting the business as the leading provider of as-set finance to the public sector. Siemens was also named company of the year at the 2006 Auto Vending Innovation Awards.

With offices throughout the UK, Siemens Financial Services has more than 260 employees and is head-quartered in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire. The company’s global headquarters is in Munich, Germany. For more information please visit www.siemens.co.uk/financialservices


Ms. Siemens Financial Services Ltd Andy Brown
Corporate Communications Manager

For further information please contact

Tel: +44 (0) 1753 434046

Mobile +44 (0) 7721 513777

About Siemens