What can companies do about Climate Change?
Corporations may look all-powerful. They often seem to be linked to greater or lesser environmental harm. More and more companies advertise their intention of operating in a sustainable way.
What can companies do to combat Climate Change? What is stopping them from doing more? How can we influence them?
This page answers these questions.
In 2010, the industry sector accounted for around 28% of final energy use and 13 GtCO₂ emissions, including direct and indirect emissions as well as process emissions.
A 2016 Science published study shows that more than 60% of global emissions arrive from sources generated by 90 companies.
It is estimated that by 2050, emissions by industry could be projected to increase by 50-150% in the default scenario.
In contrast, the energy intensity of the industrial sector could be directly reduced by about 25% compared to the current level, through/thanks to wide-scale upgrading and replacement and deployment of best available technologies.
The goal of private companies is making profit. Reducing production costs by using less energy, less material and less transport is beneficial for companies and reduces at the same time our carbon footprint.
Therefore, companies can be an important element in the fight against Climate Change.
Where interests of companies and society do not coincide, reduction in GHG emissions must be enforced by laws and consumer demands.
Source - Carbon Majors
What CAN be done by Companies
What has been done?
In recent years, with awareness on Climate Change growing, some resources becoming increasingly scarce and the price of renewable energy declining, corporate actions in light of Climate Change have multiplied.
In 2015 Carbon Disclosure Project's 'Global Climate Change Report' presented on its 822 companies invested in its initiative with US$95 trillion in assets a:
In 2017 102 Companies pledged to pursue a 100% renewable electricity strategy.
89% increase in activities that reduce carbon emissions over 5 years
75% offer incentives for climate change management
Source - RE100
Companies and Corporations form an important part of modern society. They provide the goods and services that we consume. Aside from that, they provide work opportunities and salaries for the work performed.
Still, in this they depend highly on clients buying their products, and thus are vulnerable. If their products are not wanted anymore or become too expensive, companies can face financial problems or bankruptcy quickly. Some examples of international juggernauts that once had a global dominance and have currently (nearly) disappeared, include: Nokia, IBM, Kodak, Yahoo, Singer, Pan Am, Blockbuster, etc.
Companies and corporations might share the same goal of combatting Climate Change by producing goods more efficiently, with less energy and less pollution.
The ultimate goal of a company however is increasing profit. This is continuously monitored by the shareholders of the company, who ultimately determine the direction the company needs to go in.
There are 2 major ways in which profit can be made: by saving on costs or by selling more products. Unfortunately, selling more material goods, increasing economic growth, is clearly documented as one of the top most important factors of increasing GHG emissions.
Therefore, when it comes to economic growth, the interests of companies and corporations are often in direct contradiction with the goal of combatting Climate Change.
Source - Newsmart
What CANNOT be done by companies?
Source - Economysociology.org
Companies are highly dependent on us buying their products to make profit
Economic growth is one of the most important drivers for Climate Change
Source - Earth Policy Institute
Source - World Bank