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Sustainable Capitalism: How Corporations Can Deliver Climate Change Solutions

by Jane Marsh Americas Asia Europe Sep 1st 20224 mins
Sustainable Capitalism: How Corporations Can Deliver Climate Change Solutions

Environmentalists are exploring eco-consumer impacts as demand for green products keeps rising. However, while sustainable market shifts can impact manufacturing practices, an individual’s conservation efforts are less effective. Governments must target corporations when looking to shrink global carbon and water footprints. But can there really be such a thing as sustainable capitalism?

The Carbon Footprint Scale

The government measures a company’s carbon footprint by exploring its direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions. Over 80% of the global power supply comes from fossil fuels. Manufacturers that power their facilities using coal and oil contribute to atmospheric degradation.

Environmental professionals calculate emissions deriving from transportation, mining, packaging, product usage, and more and they also assess companies’ water footprints when determining their sustainability levels.

Transparent corporations like Target count their direct and indirect emissions before displaying their carbon footprints. Taking a Samsung TV sold on Target’s website as an example, the company displays the carbon that went into manufacturing it as well as the emissions that will be generated throughout its life cycle. Less transparent corporations like Amazon only display their own products’ carbon footprints. They also represent manufacturing emissions instead of products’ life cycle emissions.

You might also like: Amazon Carbon Emissions Grew 18% in 2021, Fuelled by Pandemic Online Shopping Surge

Government Regulations

There are few government regulations in place to support global environmental sustainability. The United Nations (UN) developed a worldwide net-zero emission goal. However, member countries plan and set their own regulations, and environmentalists believe some nations are teaming up with the UN as a greenwashing opportunity. 

In 1975, the US developed the Clean Air Act (CAA) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary and mobile sources. Since its establishment, there have been minimal alterations. 

America regulates corporations’ emissions using a carbon credit system. Government officials developed a set number of credits to place a cap on pollution. Unfortunately, companies take advantage of the system and purchase all the credits, creating an uneven system.

Extended Producer Responsibility

Some nations specifically target corporations through extended producer responsibility (EPR) policies. They hold manufacturers accountable for the pollution their products generate throughout their life cycles. Companies must also create low-impact goods to meet the policies’ goals. 

For instance, the US is establishing corporate social responsibility regulations to minimise ecological degradation. Government officials in France are exploring France’s duty of vigilance law to conserve the global ecosystem. France targets large businesses with over 5,000 employees and requires them to develop environmental and social preservation regulations. 

Sustainability certification organisations are also holding companies accountable for their environmental impacts. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), for example, is positively impacting corporations by requiring manufacturers to use 100% virgin materials and recycled goods. Using low-impact materials significantly improves conservation efforts and lowers landfill waste. 

Some environmental issues corporations contribute with are due in part to greenwashing. Producer responsibility laws are now being aimed at reducing or eliminating greenwashing in marketing. Corporations use eco-conscious rhetoric to deceive their customers, and in response, environmentalists are creating stricter green certification regulations to improve consumers’ awareness. 

Another certification programme preventing greenwashing in America is Climate Neutral. The organisation calculates companies’ cradle-to-consumer carbon footprints. Its mission is to produce a sustainable market without impacting future generations’ access to clean resources. 

Circular Economy and Sustainable Capitalism

The European Commission established a circular economy action plan in 2020 to support the Green Deal. Its goal is to develop new employment opportunities and stimulate the economy while conserving natural resources. The commission plans on using the economic structure to achieve carbon neutrality and prevent biodiversity loss.

One key feature of a circular economy is material reuse. People keep resources circulating throughout the economy for as long as possible to minimise mining and extraction demands. Water conservation, purification, and distribution professionals can repurpose used resources to support the circular economy.

Nearly 1% of the freshwater on Earth is available for consumption. Society must optimise the supply to improve hydration, agricultural production, and other systems. Water professionals in Nevada are on the right track. They are recycling used water and supporting 20,000 employees in the process.

The government can also implement elements of sustainable capitalism into its system, which conserves natural resources. Sustainable capitalism relies on low-impact products, services, and procedures to stimulate the economy. The clean electric grid is one example of the economic ideal.

People that adopt renewable energy systems can generate passive income. Installing solar panels and other technologies may conserve fossil fuels and support new jobs. The government and corporations must work together to achieve net-zero emission goals.

Promoting Sustainable Regulations

Consumers can influence sustainable laws and regulations by voting for change. Riding one’s bike to work may have minimal ecological impacts, but government policies can significantly shrink the global footprint. Educating others about their lifestyles’ effects may also help preserve the ecosystem. Every little change for the good adds up when taken as a whole, and governments can do their part by regulating changes on a larger scale.

You might also like: 10 Companies and Corporations Called Out For Greenwashing

Tagged: corporate

About the Author

Jane Marsh

Jane works as the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co. She specialises in covering topics in sustainability, renewable energy and environmental policy.

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