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Aligning business interests with climate change

  • Published at 09:47 pm December 30th, 2019
Climate change Business
Earth over greed Bigstock

They cannot be only thinking about profit maximization

Climate change is undoubtedly the most pressing global issue of the 21st century.

Despite a contentious position on the global spectrum -- not helped by certain powerful nations’ skepticism of the crisis -- and arguments on a geo-political level that have numerous layers, the science is clear: Climate change is real and will be increasingly devastating to people around the world if there aren't significant changes made.

When it comes to overall business practices, it must be noted that while most businesses may pay lip service to combating climate change, the reality is far from it.

According to a 2017 report on global carbon emissions, just 100 top global companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions, which essentially makes climate change, beyond just a man-made crisis, a crisis that was essentially caused by businesses.

It is laughable when big businesses -- notorious polluters of the world -- put on this false mask of sustainability. It is “greenwashing” at its most ghastly form and it is a crying shame that the general population continues to be at their mercy.

Therefore, while there is no doubt that there must be a paradigm shift in the business strategies of the future, and this indeed will have to be incorporated across myriad sectors and industries.

What remains the foremost need of the hour, beyond strategies, is acknowledgment.

It is only when big businesses acknowledge that they remain the biggest culprits for causing the phenomenon that is climate change will any talks of strategies in the future be relevant.

What is most egregious about current business practices is their lack of foresight; in a business world where profits are calculated quarterly, CEOs often incorporate a myopic, singular approach to conducting business.

This has been the modus operandi for much of 20th-century business and it has cost our planet dearly.

Beyond acknowledgment, businesses must align their future goals and objectives by incorporating what is the “triple bottom line” which means doing business that is not just financially beneficial but also has a positive social impact along with minimal environmental damage (or even positive environmental impact).

While many businesses may feel that changing their business strategies keeping the planet in mind would not work well for them, there are examples across the world which show that they can indeed be incorporated.

An example that immediately comes to mind is Adidas, one of the largest sportswear companies in the world making shoes from recycled plastic waste from the sea.

While there are companies to have incorporated the triple bottom line into their business strategy, it must become the norm and the standard for all businesses.

Gone are the days of Milton Friedman and his doctrine of profit maximization, where he urged businesses to only think about making a profit.

In today's world, businesses have a duty and an obligation to clean up their own mess. They have a duty to do good for the planet and make the world a better place to live in.

This duty also falls on the government and the general public to hold big businesses accountable for their actions.

It is only when they are pressured into changing their ways will their future strategies align with the needs of the world at large and not just for selfish profit gains for the company and its shareholders.

The climate crisis of the world is the fault of businesses and rapid industrialization, particularly of a select few countries in the western world.

It is only fair that all future strategies in business are such that they work to make up for the damage that they have caused.

AHM Mustafizur Rahman is an Editorial Assistant at Dhaka Tribune.