Reliable finance is a 'must-have' for green start-up businesses, academics at Kingston University (KU) have suggested.

Kingston Business School's Dr Yannis Pierrakis said that the contribution of small businesses could not be underestimated in the fight against the surging climate crisis.

Speaking on September 18 at an international conference on entrepreneurial finance for green start-ups at KU, Dr Pierrakis argued said that small businesses had a "huge role" to play in the task to decarbonise Britain's economy as fast as possible.

"When we talk about small businesses that protect the environment, we're not just talking about companies that make sustainable products, we also mean service providers that help promote and enable greener living and working.

"As 99 per cent of UK companies are small and medium-sized, there's a huge role for them to play in this area," Dr Pierrakis said.

Environmentally focused companies were often less interested in debt finance and preferred to seek alternative sources of funding, such as peer-to-peer lending or even raising money from crypto-currencies, he added.

"There is a huge appetite from the public for politicians to take action to protect the planet, so there's a real need to look at new ways of funding small businesses operating in the environmental sector.

"The Government is supporting various green financing schemes, but these are normally focused on large corporations or infrastructure projects," the KU business expert pointed out.

All major parties in the UK agree that moving the UK away from using fossil fuels and towards a carbon-neutral economy is essential to mitigate the upheavals entailed by accelerating climate change.

The Conservative government have committed the UK to become carbon neutral by 2050.

The main opposition Labour party recently agreed on a more ambitious plan of full decarbonisation by 2030, in line with the "sharp emissions reductions" recommended by recent scientific research and demanded by environmental movements.

When it comes to the role businesses will play in getting the UK economy away from carbon emissions altogether, KU Director Professor Robert Blackburn warned that in the present environmentally friendly, green-minded start-ups faced a particularly difficult task because many lenders still considered them risky.

"Lenders find it difficult to understand such organisations because of their innovativeness and perceive them to be risky.

"Innovation, green technology and small entrepreneurial businesses are three elements that combine to create conditions that can make business start-up and expansion very difficult," he said.

So what's the solution?

Drawing together experts from Germany, Italy, Ireland and the UK, conclusions from the KU Business School conference suggested that helping environmentally friendly companies access "longer-term" finance as easily as possible was the next challenge to work out.

"The next step is to work increasingly closely with colleagues from across other institutions and in other disciplines — particularly engineering and art and design — to produce game-changing ideas that will help environmentally friendly companies access the kind of longer-term finance that can enable them to realise their potential to combat climate change," Dr Pierrakis said.