Climate Change and Global Businesses

How serious is Climate Change ?

The topic of climate change is uppermost on the minds of many mainly due to the ongoing international talks in Paris under the COP 21 initiative. In addition, the recent floods in the Indian city of Chennai and the ever increasing pollution in Beijing and New Delhi are reminders that faster economic growth does not always translate into better living conditions. While the floods in Chennai were partly as a result of unchecked development and the effect of El Nino which is a manifestation of extreme weather, the apocalyptic pollution levels in Beijing and New Delhi are a result of massive industrialization without putting in place environmental safeguards.

Climate Change is Undeniable

Indeed, in this context, the talks in Paris have had an immediacy and urgency in solving the problems of climate change and unchecked and rapid growth. Specifically, climate change is something that is undeniable and hence, sooner the better as far as action on mitigating and alleviating its effects are concerned. Considering the fact that global businesses have as much at stake as the governments and the civil society groups in tackling climate change, we can now turn to the ways and means in which global businesses and capitalism can come together to combat climate change.

Unchecked Growth and Climate Change

Capitalism and neoliberalism in their pursuit of growth at any cost are often blamed for climate change. When there is massive growth with carbon emitting industries and the power supplies and energy mix comprising of coal fired plants and other high carbon methods, it is inevitable that the resultant release of carbons into the atmosphere would lead to effects on the weather. In addition, the consumerist way of living with its wasteful and excessive consumption means that the people in the West with their profligate lifestyles are also responsible.

Further, the use of cars with its hydrocarbon fuels means that there are more emissions per capita from the United States than the rest of the world. Therefore, when global businesses claim that they are taking steps to address climate change, not many people are convinced and instead, point to the fact that these businesses are engaged in Greenwashing.

What is Greenwashing and how it is practiced ?

Greenwashing is a term used to describe how businesses continue with their high carbon emitting methods and at the same time, publicly state that they are addressing social and environmental concerns by investing token amounts of money in these initiatives. In other words, they wash their polluting and environmentally degrading practices with the veneer of going green which means that it is business as usual with some money being spent on social and environmental causes.

Business as Usual Would Not Do

However, the phenomenon of climate change has reached such dangerous levels that business as usual cannot simply continue. Indeed, the urgency of the matter reflects in the examples cited in the introduction wherein businesses and society cannot go on living the way they have lived and instead, make drastic and radical changes to their lifestyles and industrial methods of production. While this might sound like scaremongering especially when there are many who say that climate always changes and there is nothing human made or human caused about it.

Need for another Manhattan Project

Indeed, many experts have said that there is a need for a Manhattan Project kind of mobilization wherein governments, businesses, and civil society come together to address the issue of climate change. The reference here is the massive mobilization that the United States engaged in at the time of the Second World War wherein all stakeholders came together to support the wartime effort. As has been indicated by some experts, climate change is something that is just not confined to the debating rooms and chambers and instead, its effects are visible, risible, and for all to see in plain sight.

The Time for Action is Now

Therefore, the point that unless we take drastic action, we are soon likely to witness more natural calamities means that global businesses must start a massive drive to wean themselves of coal and other polluting energy sources, consumers worldwide would have to make sacrifices in their everyday lifestyles by cutting down on excessive consumption and reducing their carbon footprint, and everyone everywhere have to ensure that they embrace clean and green lifestyles and technologies.

2015 was the Hottest Year on Record

This is something that is not ambitious or fanciful as the steady warming of the planet continues. For instance, 2015 was the hottest year on record which was the case with 2014 as well and hence, are we going to do something about it or we would breaking dubious records on our way to destruction and devastation. These are the problems that businesses must address on a war-footing and an urgent basis. Indeed, the time is now and any action delayed would only hasten our descent into destruction of our ecosystems and our planet.

Climate Change Changes Everything

Finally, it is not that businesses and governments are not engaged in this issue. However, the steps taken so far have been mostly symbolic and without substance which means that more concrete and immediate action in addition to more meaningful and detailed steps have to be taken. It is hoped that the coalition of businesses, governments, and civil society would agree on this aspect for a change rather than bickering over everything which is the norm. Indeed, climate change changes everything and hence, it is time for real and meaningful action rather than vague promises and empty rhetoric.


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