There is no Planet B.

A call for corporate climate action

In light of Climate Strike Week, all of my newsletters will be dedicated to the Climate Action movement. That includes climate action initiatives that companies are taking, innovative green/eco-friendly startups, and ways that you can make your concerns about the seemingly lack of climate action heard.

Main Points

Today, we are going to talk about which companies need to take responsibility for their global impacts and why they need to.

Corporate Responsibility

Recently, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pledged to supply 80% of the company’s electricity by 2024 and 100% by 2030. Alongside that, Amazon is also committing $100 million dollars to preserving nature and wildlife. That’s a great first start for the infamous company that paid zero dollars in taxes last year but that remains outside of the scope of this conversation. But Amazon is just one of a few companies that are taking responsibility for their global impact and we need more.

In order to understand where we need action to be taken, we need to understand which economic sectors are polluting the most (I go into that in detail here).

Emissions Trends

Line graph of greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector for 1990 to 2017. Emissions started around 1,800 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents in 1990, peaked at nearly 2,500 million in 2007, and fell to about 1,775 million in 2017.Line graph of direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions from industry for 1990 to 2017. There are three lines - for total emissions, direct emissions, and indirect emissions from electricity. All three lines generally trend downwards.

*Graphs from epa.gov

The good news is that since 2008, the United States has been emitting less and less greenhouse gases. However, there is a caveat.

Global emissions are on the rise

Although these industries have been showing slow down on their emissions in the United States, global emissions has been ramping up. Last year, a group of researchers at the Global Carbon Project determined that carbon dioxide emissions increased by 2.7% globally. To put that into perspective, 36.2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide was emitted back in 2017 and 37.1 billion metric tons was emitted in 2018. That is almost an additional billion metric tons of emission in just one year and there doesn’t seem to be any signs of emissions slowing down.

How is this happening?

In order to understand how this is happening, we have to take a look at the manufacturing sector and thanks to US companies outsourcing their manufacturing operations to China, China has been ramping up their fossil fuel usage in order to meet the manufacturing demands from the US. Now before you go ahead and say ‘aha, China is the problem!’ understand that since we are providing increasing market demand, we are part of the problem. By choosing to pawn off the dirty work to China, we are causing China’s increasing fossil fuel usage.

What can we do?

If someone were to ask you to define a leader, what would you say? I believe a leader always acts for majority benefit and by majority I mean, majority of human population since climate change is a global phenomenon. The United States has always been at the forefront of innovation e.g. the industrial revolution, aviation, and space race. But thus far, when speaking with regards to climate action, the United States isn’t doing much. Thus, in order for the United States to lead again, we need to lead by example. This means

  1. Implement legislation demanding for better energy efficiency solutions, tax carbon emissions, and fund eco-friendly innovation.

  2. Enforce energy efficiency solutions on foreign manufacturing sites.

  3. Holding ourselves accountable by getting back into the Paris Agreement

Calling all people (not just Americans)

Now, these are all very bold solutions but we were never one to shy away from an honest challenge. We need to show the world that we are committed to climate action and are willing to work alongside other countries to figure out solutions that will benefit everyone. We need to do this and we must not be afraid of action only complacency. Remember, there is no Planet B.