There’s no denying that climate change is a fundamental global issue.

This is a concern everyone has a hand in fixing — or at least that’s what we’ve been told. In reality, it’s corporations and governments that are most responsible. They need to be at the helm if we’re ever going to mediate the looming repercussions.

Take a look.

Who’s to Blame for Climate Change?

You’ve probably seen countless advertisements and articles urging consumers to take action against climate change. They’ve become a staple in the media. Let’s pause for a moment to think about the scale of those calls to action. Is your effort to stop using plastic bags really going to make a tangible difference in averting climate change? The answer is no.

Globally, 100 companies are responsible for over 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. The same figures pop up when you look into businesses contributing to plastic pollution, land deforestation and more. It’s a small group of corporations, ranging from Shell to PepsiCo, that are distinct perpetrators of climate change in the modern era.

There’s no specific person or entity solely responsible for climate change because it’s a systemic issue, and pointing fingers is pointless in the grand scheme of things. We instead need to figure out who or what has the most power to alter the choices we make.

Individual Change Isn’t Working

These points don’t mean that individuals should stop trying. A genuine effort to do things like eat less meat and dairy and reduce daily water consumption is still necessary. That said, we can’t expect everyone to become more eco-friendly at once — especially when messaging doesn’t exactly work.

How often have you heard that you should walk or bike to work rather than drive? This sentiment is key when you consider gasoline carbon emissions, but Australians aren’t buying those facts. The number of cars in the country grew by nearly 1.5% from 2019 to 2020. A similar thing is happening in the U.S. and elsewhere.

There’s some powerful change happening from person to person. The weight of our actions is substantial when we take steps to reduce carbon outputs individually and collectively. Unfortunately, it’s not enough when there’s not a collective effort. If we want to save our planet, we need to demand more in the way of leadership from authorities that can make a difference.

Corporations and Governments Need to Act

These two entities have enough influence to mitigate climate change.

The laws governments pass impact nearly every way in which we lead our lives. Take the Trump Administration’s adjustments to the Endangered Species Act as an example of adverse change. If we can urge leaders to put rules and regulations in place that protect the Earth, we’ll be able to see improvements more quickly.

Corporations are extremely powerful. They create the gas we use to heat our homes and bottle the water we use to drink and clean — and that’s only a small fraction of how they influence us. We’d all lead greener lives if they made sweeping changes to their processes.

The world’s corporations and governments often work together, too. The government gives tax breaks and other incentives to businesses that support their best interests. The U.S. government handed the oil industry nearly $650 million in subsidies in 2015. These actions only cause further harm to the environment.

The Verdict: It’s Up to Higher Authorities to Make Changes

It’s dangerous to blame “all of us” for climate change when the problems mainly lie in the hands of companies and leaders. We can make positive impacts as individuals — but without sustainable leadership from higher authorities, it’ll be impossible to improve our planet. We need the most influential members of our society to take action.

 

By Jane Marsh

Jane is the editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers green technology, sustainable building and environmental news.