BLOG: Who is Really Responsible for Climate Change?

Should we blame big manufacturers entirely for climate change as they alone produce a large percentage of global emissions?

Ethan (19) shares his view on climate change below!

With just 100 companies being responsible for 71% of global emissions,

it is important to recognise the responsibility they hold in the ongoing battle to slow down the rate of climate change. The devastating effects of climate change on housing, food supplies, clean water availability, and health should warrant it being a human rights issue, but it isn’t seen that way by large companies.

The nature of capitalism means that companies have to compete with each other in order to survive in society, but at what cost to the environment? The balance for businesses between the short-term need to make a profit and the long-term risks of climate change can only be controlled if governments take action soon.

Governments have a huge responsibility to limit climate change as they hold the power to reduce the damage being done by large companies. It is important for governments to look to alternative energy sources as China’s coal industry is currently responsible for 14.32% of global emissions. Putting in targets to use renewable energy by certain dates, such as the Paris initiative to remove all diesel cars on the road by 2020, can aid the reduction of emissions.

There have been many agreements signed between countries in order to work together to make global aims on how to reduce climate change. For example, a new EU pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has been estimated to prevent 6,000 premature deaths. If the effort to cut emissions is furthered, the figure could rise to 40,000.

The main issue with these in the past is the unwillingness of countries to make adjustments if it results in less economic gain for them.

This has led countries to either not signing or withdrawing from agreements. The effectiveness of these pacts cannot be evaluated until countries fully accept their responsibility and the need to work alongside each other towards a shared goal.

As well as governments enforcing quotas and targets, it is the responsibility of businesses to actively sign onto them. ‘The Business End of Climate’ report has shown ways to limit the temperature rise to 2°C and if relevant companies signed onto these targets, it would reduce the emissions by 10 billion tonnes.

Sure, we as consumers can make small adjustments to our lifestyles such as not using single-use plastics and switching to renewable energy sources, but ultimately, if those with the most power do not restrict the way businesses operate within society, how much can really change? There’s certainly merit in individual action on climate change, but maybe this lies more in changing society’s opinion rather than directly reducing global emissions. With society’s opinion becoming more hostile towards businesses actions, this will encourage action from those with power to make real change.