Ecological transition of SMEs lagging behind in spite of themselves – Economics

Even when there seems to be a desire to lead their company towards a green transition, SMEs are reluctant to admit that they are “bad learners” in this area due to the obstacles inherent in their activities.

“We have a lot to do,” admits Thibaut Nicodemus, 37, who came to represent his helicopter air rescue service for the SME and ETI green transition day hosted by Bpifrance in Lyon last week.

About 700 business leaders came to share their questions and experiences through “master classes” and fun exercises.

For SAF Aerogroup, the verdict of the individual environmental diagnosis workshop is clear: well below average, especially in their sustainable innovation policies for their products and services.

“It is true that the environmental impact” is “viewed as secondary” because “we are already making a strong positive impact through our rescue, health and emergency activities…”, justifies the head of this Savoie-based company. . “But today we’re still trying to think about it.”

While 80% of SME leaders see climate as a major issue, many say they don’t know how to start the transition to a green economy.

France had 3.9 million SMEs in 2018, according to the latest INSEE data, and their efforts are critical to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, as set out in the European Green Deal.

But while 80% of SME executives see climate as a major issue, according to a Bpifrance study, many say they don’t know how to start the transition to a green economy.

Longer, more rigorous, different workouts…

Olivier Déret, 44, director of QHSE at roof repair and maintenance company Attila, plans to conduct a mandatory carbon assessment every four years starting in 2010 for companies with more than 500 employees. Purpose: To measure the environmental impact of all company flows.

The 40-year-old admits that the company’s 300 vehicles produce “large amounts” of pollutants and that the resin-based products used can emit volatile organic compounds.

Therefore, the company is trying to be more “green”, in particular by no longer using blowtorches for waterproofing.

“Of course, it takes more time, is more limited and requires training, because our business does not lend itself to this kind of innovation … But why not try to do more? asks the representative of this company from Montargis (Loiret), knowing that “our customers are asking us to make progress on environmental issues.”

“Transition Now”

Isabelle Raes believes in this “small gesture theory”. In 2017, she started working on electricity in her tourist train. But she also faces obstacles.

“Some electric trains are not powerful enough for certain types of tracks, for example when driving on steep slopes,” explains France Voguette’s administrative and financial manager. “We are stuck, unlike the old operators who use more powerful diesel-powered trains,” adds the 46-year-old entrepreneur.

It also regrets that tourist trains are not eligible for the EUR 30,000 environmental bonus for the purchase of heavy vehicles set by the France Relance plan to support the necessary changes.

Cheerfully: “On the contrary, because the transition is now and we must make it,” she says.

Indeed, the latest report by UN climate experts (IPCC) states that without a “rapid” reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors, it is impossible to limit global warming.

“A worrisome assessment,” warns Anne Guérin, director of finance, network and climate plan at Bpifrance.

“The transition is really a matter of survival for companies, because today, even if all customers are not ready to pay additional costs for having a green offer, tomorrow it will become mandatory,” she says.

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