Articles like “Ways to reduce your impact on climate change in 2021” (Clean Water Action) and “The 20 Best Ways To Stop Climate Change” (One Tree Planted) are all over the internet. While these articles focus on global warming, they also have something else in common: Targeting you as an individual consumer, in order to explain what you can do to make a difference in our climate crisis, like taking shorter showers, travelling less, and buying fewer things.
Most of these articles conveniently breeze over the fact that over 71% of the world’s carbon footprint is the direct result of 100 corporations. Unsurprisingly, the majority of those companies are in the oil and gas sector, including mega corps such as ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, and BP.
You aren’t driving our climate into catastrophe, they are.
Corporate Lobbying and The Fossil Fuel Industry
Why are we blaming people rather than companies? If the majority of carbon is created by corporate giants, why are we focusing on individuals consumption patterns?
The short answer: it’s convenient for them to shift the responsibility to you.
For decades, the average person has been bombarded with advertising campaigns and other marketing tactics with the aim of altering their behavior. Turning off the tap when brushing your teeth might save up to 200 gallons of water per month, but the agriculture industry uses 468 gallons of water to produce a single pound of chicken. Even more disturbing, for every barrel of oil produced in the US, 10 barrels of water is contaminated and “disposed of” – leaving behind unusable soils, earthquake-prone land, and dirty water.
Hold Companies Accountable for their Actions.
In order to reverse the environmental damage that we see on a daily basis, we have to stop blaming ourselves and start using our voices to demand governmental pressure on industries to take responsibility for curbing industrial emissions.
Our governments have the ability to enact legislation that will prevent further climate change. We need to regulate carbon emissions and subsidized renewable energy.
Outside of fossil fuels, fashion and transportation are two of the largest polluters worldwide. Investing in our infrastructure to support mass transit can lead to sweeping changes in our total global greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation was responsible for 60 percent of California’s total carbon dioxide emissions in 2018. (Statista.com) Can you imagine how much better the air (and traffic!) would be with a plethora of eco-friendly busses and a high-speed train system in place?
Though sustainable fashion is becoming more popular, the fashion industry is still responsible for 10 % of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping. By demanding more sustainable packaging and forcing companies to pay for the amount of waste they produce, we could cut their carbon footprint in half!
Take Responsibility For Yourself
All of this evidence is simply pointing to the fact that most companies are more to blame for our climate issues than you are as an individual. This is not to say that you shouldn’t do your own part to support the health of our planet. Your choice to forgo a Coca-Cola in a plastic bottle might save a sea creature. If you’re looking for a significant impact- simply enjoying a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle can drastically cut down your carbon emissions!
Our collective voice is the most important weapon we own. Though we each have a role to play in curbing greenhouse gasses, a truly effective approach for reversing global warming would be to hold corporate entities responsible for their actions, and for their much larger role in the climate crisis.