Since 1988, 71% of all the world’s carbon emissions have been produced by just 100 companies. Their operations are largely to blame for the climate crisis we now face.
A crisis that costs the world economy roughly $4.7 trillion in medical and social costs every year. Can you guess who’s paying for it?
You are. You might be thinking that companies already do pay to pollute.
With the effects of climate change becoming increasingly more noticeable, more countries are implementing policies like the “polluter pays” principle. The polluter pays principle basically says that companies have to pay to fix the environmental damages they cause.
In other words, you break it, you buy it. But this isn’t happening. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency even admits that certain environmental standards aren’t fully implemented in U.S. law. So if companies are paying for their pollution, those payments are probably subsidized.
In fact, in 2015, the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies received a combined $5.3 trillion in subsidies. Meanwhile, you and your neighbors help pay for more than 90% of the cost of recycling.
So why do you keep paying to fix the planet…when companies are getting paid to pollute? In 2008, the combined environmental impact of companies around the world was $2.2 trillion dollars in damages.
That’s a higher figure than every national economy, except for 10 countries. Two years later, the United Nations backed a study investigating how much it would cost companies to pay for their pollution in full.
In short, they would lose one-third of their profits. But would that be a bad thing?
At first, maybe. The cost for most products you use on a daily basis would skyrocket, since businesses would try to recoup their losses by raising prices. But in the spirit of competition, companies would probably try to seize market share by innovating, adopting greener strategies, and lowering their prices.
Some companies have already launched initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint. For example, Apple, Facebook, Google and Ikea are among 156 companies that have committed to 100% renewable power.
Even oil and gas companies like Shell are turning to green energy, with Shell recently announcing that it was investing $1.7 billion in wind power. Of course, this comes after recent findings that fossil fuel companies risk wasting over 2 trillion dollars on dirty projects that might prove worthless.
For example, as the electric car becomes more efficient, affordable, and eco-friendly, it’ll be a more popular choice amongst consumers, while, big gas guzzlers will be left on the lot. As more companies embrace renewable solutions like wind or solar power, the price of these systems would decrease, making clean energy a reasonable choice not just for companies, but for families too.
Your roof might actually earn you some money by selling power back to the grid! So while a lot of corporations continue to evade paying for their pollution, progress is being made.
From companies changing their business practices, to whole countries, like France, switching to 100% recycled plastic by 2025. Reports about climate change are always scary, but remember, we can do something about it.
- “Polluter Pays Principle”. 2018. en.wikipedia.org. Accessed December 13 2018.
- “What If Companies Had To Pay For Their Environmental Damage? – Planet Experts”. Nahigyan, Pierce, 2016. Planet Experts. Accessed December 13 2018.
- “Should Companies Pay To Pollute?”. 2018. BBC News. Accessed December 13 2018.
- “Big Business, Not Taxpayers, Should Pay To Clean Up Plastic Waste | Geraint Davies”. The Guardian. Davies, Geraint. 2018. Accessed December 13 2018.
- “World’s Top Firms Cause $2.2Tn Of Environmental Damage, Report Estimates”. Jowit, Juliette. 2010. The Guardian. Accessed December 13 2018.
- “Businesses Should Foot The Bill For The Pollution They Cause, Says United Nations”. Robert, Rachel, 2017. The Independent. Accessed December 13 2018.
- “Just 100 Companies Responsible For 71% Of Global Emissions, Study Says”. Riley, Tess. 2017. The Guardian. Accessed December 13 2018.
- “What Strategies Do Companies Use To Regain Market Share They Have Lost?”. 2018. Investopedia. Accessed December 13 2018.