10
min read

Do we need a climate revolution or evolution?

A revolution of sustainability is absolutely necessary.

Change is too slow

When the Paris Agreement, a legally binding global climate change agreement, was signed in December 2015 at the Paris Climate Change Conference, people all over the world took to the streets to celebrate. We've long known about the devastating effects of our ever-expanding, resource-draining economies on the environment, and a global push to address climate change is a significant step forward.

But it's not nearly enough.

Many of the underlying causes of climate change have remained unchanged or are changing at a glacial pace. It is past time for a revolution.

A shift toward environmental sustainability is the necessary revolution.

We urgently require a paradigm shift. Today, the old song about constant progress for the sake of prosperity is getting old. The 2008 financial crisis provided conclusive evidence that the neoliberal ideal of unlimited growth through open financial markets is completely misguided. Our planet and its future are at the true heart of things, and it's past time we began acting accordingly.

Companies should participate in the necessary revolution by taking on corporate social responsibility

A report titled "Limits to Growth," published in 1972 by the global-sustainability think tank The Club of Rome, emphasized the importance of acknowledging humanity's limited resources. Since then, public concern has grown about our unsustainable industries and economy. Obtaining environmental sustainability is no longer regarded as a desirable option; rather, it is regarded as a necessary revolution.

The required revolution affects all humans and must be carried out on an individual, political, and economic level. The individual plays the first critical role in the necessary revolution by raising public awareness through word of mouth and sharing studies and initiatives on social media.

Companies should participate in the necessary revolution by taking on corporate social responsibility. CSR, a concept that has been around since the early 2000s, integrates social causes into the goals of businesses. For example, major food industry players demonstrated CSR by reducing the use of unhealthy ingredients in their products.

Finally, the government must subsidize sustainable corporate initiatives and implement effective laws and policies to support the necessary revolution. The Kyoto Protocol, an international sustainability contract signed by nearly all world leaders in 1992, is a landmark example of government support for a greener future.

Maintaining an empowered mindset will help to kickstart the necessary revolution.

When you consider the devastation that climate change will cause on our planet, you're probably feeling pretty overwhelmed. The damage we've already done may appear irreversible. Of course, despair will not get us anywhere. It is critical that we cultivate an empowered mindset in order to push for a more sustainable future. But how exactly?

The first step is to recognize that, despite everything, we are not helpless. Radical change does not require a national government or a transnational organization. Indeed, small groups are constantly demonstrating their ability to upend the system.

Take, for example, Per Carstedt. Carstedt, the owner of a Ford dealership in Sweden, was an avid environmentalist and participant in the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). His concept? To introduce ethanol-powered vehicles to Sweden.

Ford had no idea how to assist Carstedt. Carstedt, on the other hand, was able to persuade more and more gas stations to install ethanol pumps through dedication and perseverance. He even persuaded a few investors to import the first ethanol-powered vehicles. Carstedt's team had reached 1,000 stations by 2007, accounting for one-quarter of the entire national network.

Carstedt applied an empowered mindset to transform a big idea into a genuine contribution to sustainability. Carstedt's example should be followed by more organizations. Leaders, whether in charge of a large corporation or an NGO, must look beyond the short term and initiate long-term projects that truly make a difference.

Some businesses have already begun the netZero transition

Coca-Cola, for example, has been working with WWF since 2007 to increase global access to fresh water. Coca-Cola and WWF discovered early on in their collaboration that every liter of cola produced required 200 liters of water, owing largely to sugar production. However, by improving the sustainability of sugar production, WWF and Coca-Cola are now able to save more water and, as a result, be more environmentally friendly.

The right mindset, as several pioneers have demonstrated, enables progress. We should take their lead!

Create the change you want to see by encouraging positive thinking.

Where should you begin if you want to be a part of the necessary revolution? First and foremost, consider your mindset. Anything to which you devote time and effort will progress, and it is critical to remember this. In other words, we must maintain our optimism. Of course, saying this is easier than doing it.

This is due, in part, to the fact that it is much easier to focus on eliminating what we don't want rather than creating what we do want. This is certainly reflected in the names we give to our causes. A negative focus creates a complain-and-protest mindset, rather than a push toward constructive action, in everything from anti-nuclear groups to anti-smoking protests.

So, what exactly is a positive focus? One excellent example comes from a green start-up in Germany. Customers can buy groceries without packaging at Original Unverpackt. This strategy not only reduces costs but also minimizes environmental damage. Furthermore, the company is not anti-packaging; rather, it is pro-sustainability.

If we want to see positive change in our world, we need some serious green momentum! Time spent whining or overthinking is time wasted.

Of course, the required revolution must take place on a global scale; however, this does not imply that international organizations are solely responsible for catalyzing change. We're all aware that a shift to sustainability is urgently needed, as the effects of climate change are already having an impact on our world. We need change now, and small groups and individuals will be crucial in bringing it about.

Corporations wield enormous power in our society and are the path to NetZero

Corporations play an important role in your life, not only because you might work for one, but also because you probably rely heavily on their products, for better or worse.

Corporations have what is known as limited liability as a result of specific legislation. This means that if a company fails, the owner owes nothing to their investors. Furthermore, business owners are more or less free to harm the environment as long as their company is profitable. This is especially true if the products offered by the company are deemed essential for the people in the area where the company is located.

Furthermore, the way we measure a corporation's success is in desperate need of an update. Return on investment (ROI) is a fundamental metric that defines success as getting the most out of your investment. However, this does not account for several other critical aspects of a successful business, such as employee and consumer happiness, and, of course, the business's environmental impact.

What about good old-fashioned corporate social responsibility (CSR)?

Surely, this term implies that businesses consider their impact on society. The reality is that CSR is simply not implemented effectively enough to produce meaningful results. Why is this the case?

According to CSR expert Steve Lydenberg, businesses tend to use social initiatives for short-term financial gain rather than long-term social and environmental responsibility strategies. Unfortunately, this obsession with instant gratification poses a significant threat to the economy, as well as to society and the environment.

However, not all businesses use CSR to increase revenue and improve their reputation. Some people take it seriously and are willing to change their entire strategy as a result. Consider the Deutsche Post DHL Group. They have embraced CSR in a big way, distributing free medicine to developing countries and donating to educational initiatives in developing countries.

We are all a part of the required revolution

How are you going to contribute to the necessary revolution? You have a lot of choices. However, impartiality is not one of our options. Whether we like it or not, we are all a part of the necessary revolution.

Disgusted by our corporate, consumer-driven society, some people choose to live outside the system, becoming autarkic marginals. This is a radical act of protest, but it is ineffective.

Rather than abandoning our dysfunctional system, we must drive the necessary revolution from within by effecting change. Only then will we be able to create a more promising and sustainable future for our global society. As a result, becoming an autarkic marginal isn't really a viable option. So, what can we do to begin to shape the system?

So, have you bought anything this week? Probably. Every day, we consume a wide range of products and services, which is more than enough to make us active participants in the necessary revolution.

We have a tremendous impact on the economy as consumers. After all, we are the ones who determine how much demand industries must meet.

Could we use this power to catapult things toward the necessary revolution?

Yes! Indeed, we are already doing so. Take, for example, fast food restaurants. Large fast-food franchises have struggled with profit and public image in recent years. Dissatisfied customers began to demand new things, such as healthier products and fairer wages, at some point.

One of the most significant advantages of the required revolution is that the environmental benefits it generates overlap with personal benefits. Consider our eating habits.

The China Study, the largest food study in history, investigated the links between a variety of diseases and human diet. Its findings were straightforward: eating healthily is the key to staying healthy. That entails eating a diet that is roughly 90% vegetarian. If we all ate less meat, CO2 emissions would fall and forest clearing for livestock would be reduced. It's a win-win situation: you'll improve your health while also helping the environment.

Individuals need to start directing their spending towards companies creating the future they value. Companies need to assess their vendors better when they choose their partners to ensure their path to netZero is clear and helping

A revolution of sustainability is absolutely necessary. We can create the change our planet needs by adopting an empowered mindset. Indeed, many pioneers are already leading the way, but they need our help to build momentum!

If you want to track your netZero transition, please reach out or check out https://app.15rock.com

Gautam Bakshi

Head of Product & Engineering

Former: MD - Private Markets, Wealth & Asset Management, Manulife. Education: Ryerson University, Seneca College

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