Climate change has been described as the long-term shift in the planet’s weather conditions, associated with an increase in global temperatures. Whilst climate change can cause adverse weather conditions and ecological imbalance, it can also contribute to economic and political effects around the world, such as food shortages and water availability. This is an issue which has ostensibly remained of secondary interest to both politicians, as well as the general public. However, it is now time that we as a species took accountability for our actions, and the consequences they can have for the planet.
What is this climate catastrophe, and how can we avoid it?
In light of the recent report released by the United Nation, which warned the world that we have only 12 years to avoid a global climate catastrophe, there have been many concerns regarding the nature of the solution to such an issue. The report stated explicitly that:
‘there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people’.
It could therefore be assumed that any social changes implemented would not only be advantageous, but necessary at this stage. Climate change has been objectively backed by scientific evidence, and it is time that we as a generation understood the gravity of the issue.
The main message underlying these issues is that any individual effort which attempts to tackle climate change is not futile. As individuals, we must see it as our responsibility to contribute to the ecological balance of the planet. Nevertheless, it is equally crucial to consider where this problem stems from. Now, more than ever, holding corporations to account for their actions is a necessity. This way, we are able to tackle climate change both individually and collectively.
We, as individuals, can take steps to reduce our carbon footprint.
It is our responsibility to ensure that the planet we live in does not reach appoint of ecological destruction, which in turn contributes to climate change. There are many ways in which we can evade this issue. One of the most effective contributions could be a shift to veganism or vegetarianism. Understandably, it is difficult to abolish meat and dairy products from your diet if you have become accustomed to them. However, even reducing the intake could prove to be extremely beneficial for the planet. A study showed that the meat and dairy industry uses 83 per cent of farmland and produces 60 per cent of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. The view that reducing one’s meat and dairy intake has been corroborated by researchers from Oxford University, who found that:
‘cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent’.
Moreover, by cutting down individual red meat consumption, we are also saving energy that would otherwise be directed towards meat production. Crops are grown to feed cattle, and fossil fuels are used in the process of raising, slaughtering and transporting animals. Therefore, creating certain changes in our lifestyle may prove to contribute to the planet’s ecological stability.
It is also crucial that corporations take accountability for their role in contributing to greenhouse emissions.
Nevertheless, whilst it is our responsibility to ensure that we look after the planet, many corporations are also perpetrators of climate change, as a recent report revealed how only:
‘100 corporations were responsible for over 70% of greenhouse emissions, since 1988’.
In May 2002, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released a report which outlined how only a small number of companies in each industry are ‘actively integrating social and environmental factors into business decisions’. In conjunction with the somewhat shocking statistics that hold just 100 corporations responsible for such a sizeable percentage of greenhouse emissions, it could be considered that holding corporations to account is just as important in the quest to combat climate change.
There is a plethora of ways in which companies could integrate social and environmental policies which help the environment. There have been many market-based solutions proposed to environmental problems. Some of these include tax structures, which can incentivise sustainable corporate behaviour, such as the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change. The Kyoto Protocol is a ‘legally binding agreement under which industrialized countries will reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2%’, according to the UNEP.
Additionally, even implementing domestic changes to company routines and policies may be extremely beneficial in the long run. One of the most effective ways that companies can do this, is by practising green procurement. Corporations should aim look for suppliers and choose to source goods and services that have been produced sustainably and don’t require excessive packaging. In doing so, they can ensure that their supplies are sustainable, as well as environmentally friendly.
To conclude, there is no set blueprint which we must follow in order to limit a global catastrophe. However, it is pivotal to acknowledge the global impact we can have if we make slight changes in our day-to-day lifestyle. However, it is equally critical that businesses are held to account, and encouraged to adopt market policies which are environmentally friendly, as they can initiate a domino effect for environmental change.
We must move past our anthropocentric tendencies, and take accountability for our actions, in order to construct a truly sustainable future.