Individuals must be held responsible for their climate impact

Individual action against climate change is paramount.

It’s a widespread notion that a few companies are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2017, The Guardian reported 71 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions were  attributable to 100 companies.

Many use this fact as an excuse to overlook their individual contributions to climate change. It’s more convenient to blame these few corporations than to worry about your individual carbon footprint.

This reasoning is faulty. Individuals’ consumer demands are behind most greenhouse gas emissions. Without individuals creating a market for them, these companies wouldn’t be emitting as much.

With climate change becoming a bigger concern, major companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google have started prioritizing sustainability.

According to a recent survey, nine out of 10 business leaders believe consumers will hold them responsible for their business’ environmental impact. Clearly, those in charge of companies are aware their approach to climate change matters for their bottom lines.

The efficacy of leading by example is another reason why individual action is still relevant in the battle against climate change.

One person following sustainable practices—whether it’s properly recycling, using public transit, or using reusable products over disposable ones where possible—can provide others a model to emulate.

It’s one thing to read about a sustainable lifestyle. It’s another thing to see it in practice.

Someone witnessing another person living sustainably is more likely to realize it’s less work than they’d imagined and to be moved to try adopting sustainable practices themselves.

Individual action can lay the groundwork for broader societal action.

Austrian CEO Karl Oschner’s family business is the perfect example of this possibility. Oschner Heat Pumps produces high efficiency heat pumps.

Oschner’s company was founded in 1978. In the past two years, it’s seen a 30 per cent increase in its sales, driven primarily by its large commercial clients like Google and IKEA.

What was once a small family business has now positively impacted some of the largest companies in the world, led its country’s green technology industry, and stopped the emission of 2.5 million tons of CO2 so far.

To incentivize individual action against climate change, governments should be implementing tax credits and rebates like the Inflation Reduction Act.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is an American piece of legislation that offers rebates for heat pumps. Individuals must use those rebates to achieve the act’s main goal, reducing carbon emissions.

As global temperatures continue to rise, encouraging individual action is becoming increasingly essential in responding to climate change.

Vineeth is a third-year Health Sciences student and one of The Journals Features Editors.


Climate change, corporations, greenhouse gas, individual action, pollution

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