Worldwide, the economies of developed countries are dominated by SMEs, with small to medium businesses accounting for over 99 percent of almost all private sectors.
As SMEs vastly outnumber large businesses in every corner of the globe — in the UK alone contributing to at least six percent of overall carbon emissions — mitigating their greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution would move countries forward on their paths to net zero.
Read on to find out about SME business populations around the world, and the actions being taken to reduce GHG emissions.
SME numbers in developed economies
All 27 European Union (EU) member states, the UK, as well as the major North American and Australasian economies share the same economic makeup.
Micro businesses are the most popular, representing at least 73 percent (Canada) of the private sector. Followed by small businesses, accounting for at least 2.1 percent (USA), and medium businesses, at least 0.5 percent (Italy).
Finally, large businesses make up the remaining count, representing no more than 0.5 percent of the private sector in any of the nations included in the table below.
|International SME Populations|
*EU countries all data 2018
*Canada data 2019. Does not include business with < 1 employee
*Australia data 2020
*USA data 2016 & 2018
*Mexico data 2018
49 – 249 employees
Reducing SME emissions internationally
In the UK the average SME consumes four times less energy than a large business. Assuming this trend is reflected throughout the developed world, governments focusing climate change efforts on large businesses doesn’t come as a surprise.
However, across the world, this has allowed SME carbon emissions to go unchecked and unmeasured. Only in 2020 have they begun to attract organised attention on an international scale.
Voluntary initiatives such as the SME Climate Hub and Race to Zero are the attempts of some of the world’s largest private enterprises to encourage small business owners to commit to halving emissions before 2030.
Governments have embraced these voluntary schemes as official efforts targeting SMEs. And although the schemes give those who are willing to self-regulate carbon emissions effective advice, they remain voluntary.
To date, no country has any law-bound official policies to regulate SME carbon emissions. This is a problem made worse as countries such as the UK, who have enshrined global-warming prevention in law, are currently not on track to hitting net zero by 2050.