Throughout studying Geography I have built up knowledge and passion in the pressing issue of climate change. With global warming now considered “unequivocal and unprecedented” (IPCC, 2014) increasing pressure is being put on businesses to combat the problem, particularly as blame is placed on corporations with economic growth driving greenhouse gas emissions (IPCC, 2014). After being directed towards the work of Professor Christopher Wright I have discovered a vast amount of research on this relationship between the corporate and climate world, which this blog will draw upon.
An obvious paradox has arisen as while corporations are responsible for a large amount of emissions “they are also seen as our best hope in reducing emissions through technological innovation” (Wright and Nyberg, 2015). In order to engage companies, basic business principles are key, as summed up by Richard Branson saying “our only hope to stop climate change is for industry to make money from it” (Spiegel, 2012). However this engagement has been slow, going back to the 60s when “seeds of doubt” (Anderson, 2015) were placed by the fossil fuel industry trying to delegitimise the climate problem. Repercussions of engagement have also slowed talks, with managers interviewed by Christopher Wright saying that to “stand up and say no” to actions enhancing the climate problem “involved putting their jobs on the line” (Wright, 2016).
So clearly, there are still huge problems lying in wait while working towards climate goals through engagement of businesses. One potential avenue to explore to overcome these problems is the promotion of renewable energies, which as it grows “into a multi trillion dollar sector… will build a powerful industry lobby” (Cass and Wright, 2016). This blog will explore this paradox further along with the challenges and solutions that may be brought to the surface as a result.
IPCC. (2014). Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). Retrieved from https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/
Wright, C. and Nyberg, D. (2015) Climate Change, Capitalism, and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction. Cambridge, Cambdridge University Press.
Spiegel Interview with Richard Branson. (2012, June 21). Spiegel Online. Retrieved from http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/richard-branson-discusses-climate-change-business-opportunities-a-839985.html
Anderson, C. (Writer). (2015, December 08). Paris Climate vs Big Business [Podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.2ser.com/component/k2/item/19464-paris-climate-vs-big-business
Wright, C. (2016, January 28). The best thing a business could do for the environment is shut down. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/jan/28/climate-change-capitalism-business-emotions-heathrow-protest-short-term-profits.
Cass, D. and Wright, C. (2016, March 17). Beyond the market fetish: Using renewables to build political momentum for climate action. Retrieved (October 01, 2016) from http://reneweconomy.com.au/2016/beyond-the-market-fetish-using-renewables-to-build-political-momentum-for-climate-action-66974
Endangered Polar Bear. (2013) Endangered Polar Bear. Retrieved (Oct 11, 2016) from http://www.endangeredpolarbear.com.