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Our planet is in a desperate state of climate emergency carbon emissions into our atmosphere are higher than ever before, sea levels are continuing to rise, and 2016-2020 has been the hottest five-year period on record since before 1850.
While many corporations have started making efforts to be more sustainable, with Netflix pledging to be net-zero by 2023 and Starbucks reducing its carbon emissions by 50%, the same momentum isn’t present within private companies.
Before it’s too late, we need to see an increase in private companies helping to prevent climate change by participating in eco-friendly work practices and carbon offsetting schemes. To prove that this is no laughing matter, here are five reasons why private companies desperately need to be more sustainable.
While many governments have a sustainability plan and are trying to protect our environment, we can’t guarantee that they’ll take sufficient action or even have the money available to do so.
Their work alone isn’t enough – we need private sector engagement through carbon offsets and other eco-solutions. Businesses are crucial for finding solutions to our global challenges, using their technologies and innovations to bring about positive change.
A collaborative approach also needs to be taken if we want to see results. Especially in high-polluting sectors like aviation, transport, and agriculture, a united front will be the quickest and most effective way of tackling climate change.
Getting involved in the carbon offsetting industry is one way that businesses can work together to reduce their emissions and make greener decisions.
Climate change is a serious issue, with the world on track for a global temperature rise of 2.7°C by 2030. More than ever, we need industry leaders and private companies to step forward and lower their greenhouse gas emissions, setting a standard for others.
Dependent on whether businesses engage with this, the offset market has the potential to be scaled up to be worth $5-$50 billion by 2030. This would create more transparent and standardized contracts when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, but the demand has to be in place for this to happen.⁵
Carbon insetting is also an available option to tackle our difficult climate situation, which involves implementing nature-based solutions like reforestation and renewable energy.
Rather than solely relying on carbon offsets so less bad is done within their own value chain, this encourages organizations to adopt nature-positive solutions that are more effective. Without this extra involvement, it will be extremely difficult to battle greenhouse gases and rising temperatures.
When it comes to sustainable practices, a lot of major corporations are already involved. Businesses like Aldi vowed to have complete carbon offsetting within their operations as soon as possible, whereas airlines like EasyJet and British Airways severely upped their investment in carbon credits.⁶ Private sector involvement, while slowly gaining steam, needs to match this effort in order to see change.
There’s also noticeable movement and progression within the industry. In 2021, a private-sector task force unveiled plans to turn the voluntary carbon offsets into a global standard.
This would direct billions of dollars from companies wanting to reach net-zero targets into projects to cut emissions.⁷ Not only is this industry rapidly developing but there are also many promising initiatives like this one that should be seized.
However, we also need to address that while many businesses are pledging to go green and cut their emissions, action isn’t always happening.
In fact, the voluntary carbon market has been subject to dips due to a lack of engaged new buyers, despite having many loyal companies involved.⁸ As climate change rapidly worsens, it’s not enough for your business to pledge sustainable practice, but immediate action needs to be taken.
While it may once have been the case that customers and consumers weren’t putting pressure on large corporations to take responsibility for their emissions, this is no longer true. We’re living in an age of eco accountability where transparent operations like carbon offsetting are valued highly.
Consumers are not only putting pressure on businesses to reveal their environmental efforts, but it’s also a growing interest and concern for many people. 81% of people are more likely to support a brand that operates sustainably, meaning cutting carbon emissions is no longer a choice but a necessity in order to retain a loyal customer base.⁹
In line with this interest, the voluntary carbon market has also been growing exponentially, rising from 8.8 million tonnes of CO2 covered in 2006 to 62.7 million tonnes in 2017.¹º It’s a rife market that’s growing in support day by day.
While unavoidable, the Covid-19 pandemic has unfortunately slowed down many sustainability efforts. While 2020’s initial economic downturn barely scratched the surface of curbing pollution levels, the long-lasting effects of the pandemic have hindered renewable energy projects and other carbon offsetting endeavors.¹¹
While cutting greenhouse gas emissions and helping in the climate crisis has been important for years, now we’re also faced with reversing the environmental challenges of the pandemic. Action is more important now than ever, especially as climate change worsens.
Some efforts have already been made to address this issue. In light of the uncertainty surrounding what net-zero carbon pricing trajectories should look like post-Covid 19, the Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets has been established.
While it’s still early days for the organization, its goal of making the carbon offsets market 160 times bigger by 2050 than it was in 2018 shows the necessity of taking action.
Climate change isn’t going to disappear overnight, so it’s increasingly important for private companies to increase their sustainability efforts and join the solution through carbon offsetting and other eco practices. Without them, enough progress may never be made to tackle climate change.
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