Thursday, July 11, 2013

3 Ways Businesses Can Combat Climate Change

EPA Graph of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Atmosphere
Greenhouse Gases in Parts Per Million in the Atmosphere by Year
While the government has recently taken on steps to combat climate change, such as Obama's controversial plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is this really enough to make a difference? Many companies now are publicly making efforts to "go green," by installing efficient heating and cooling systems, adding rooftop gardens, and promoting recycling and waste reduction. In places like New York, public buildings must report their energy use and waste on a scorecard. However, while these efforts are certainly admirable, companies are not seriously addressing the problem of climate change. Scientists predict that within the next century, due to greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures will rise by 6°C (10.8°F), leading to catastrophic changes to our planet--from crop failures to melting glaciers to the deterioration of ecosystems. So what can businesses do to create a more sustainable future?

Here's how corporations can positively influence climate change:
  1. Lobbying is one of the most effective methods to inspire change within the government. The government is undoubtably influenced by corporations, and businesses serious about going green and reducing their impact on the environment must focus their efforts on inspiring government change. Corporations donate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to sway government opinion and should encourage the government to impose stricter laws that will reduce our carbon footprint. Businesses must realize that any change to the environment can and will effect their success. Starbucks, for example, has publicly posted ads to spread awareness about climate change while also lobbying the government since climate change will have a profound impact on the coffee plant and industry.
  2. Promoting environmentally conscious policies also demonstrates a company's genuine concern for climate change. If companies are inconsistent in their stance, such as publicly promoting the environment while supporting government policies that undermine it, then not only will the public notice, but no real change can be made. Rather than thinking about their business in the short run, corporations should strive to think about long run benefits of combating climate change.
  3. Encouraging suppliers to change their stance on climate change is also an effective way of making a real impact. If companies require their suppliers to report and reduce their carbon emissions and waste, then suppliers will have to meet their demand and follow their lead. Walmart has created a plan to create transparency in their supply chain, revealing where products are sourced and how they are manufactured. Walmart executives plan on working closely with suppliers to guarantee that their goods are being produced in an environmentally-conscious way. And while Walmart plans on reducing their carbon emissions by 20 million metric tons by 2015, an extremely impressive plan, they must further increase the pressure on the suppliers to change. Other corporations should follow this plan and be serious with their efforts. Without real pressure from companies, there will be no incentive for suppliers to change their production methods. 
Companies can help promote sustainability if they become serious in their efforts. Additionally, they should market their efforts and make it known to the public what is being done to combat the real problem of climate change. Consumers tend to prefer companies that are environmentally-conscious, so these efforts will not go unnoticed. By creating transparency for this global problem, and presenting real, applicable solutions, businesses can make a real impact on the world and help reverse a problem that the government and the public cannot tackle alone.