Does Business Have an Ethical Responsibility to Help Save the Planet?

by Diana Drake

Xiye Bastida, the 20-year-old University of Pennsylvania student and high-profile climate-justice activist who in 2019 led 600 students from her high school to participate in the first Fridays for Future New York City, continues her youth leadership to address climate change.

In November 2022, she attended the UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt, known as COP27. While there, she said, “The New York Times said that by 2070, 16% of the world might be uninhabitable due to how hot it can get. I don’t know what an uninhabitable world looks like. We don’t know what no coral reefs look like. I can cry thinking about my hometown being flooded and that’s what we need to bring back into these rooms. The emotion of what it feels to see your home being stripped away from you.”

Xiye is one voice of a generation, advocating for climate policy and holding businesses – especially fossil fuel companies – accountable for their contributions to the warming of the planet caused by excessive greenhouse gas emissions.

Profits with a ‘Climate Constraint’

While it may sometimes feel like an “us vs. them” fight – climate activists against a carbon-spewing corporate sector – business is not always the enemy. Segments of the business world have supported the growth of the global climate movement, inspired by the science behind climate change. And they are sending a strong message to the collective business community for a radical shift in mindset and mission.

Some of that momentum is coming from business academia, which generates research that often drives policy and change at the corporate level. Eric Orts, a Wharton professor of legal studies, business ethics and management, has been interested in climate policy and law since he first attended the “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.

Fast forward 30 years to this time of climate crisis and Orts has drawn on his decades of scholarly research to urge his business colleagues in industry to look at the issue through an ethical lens. He and Brian Berkey, a Wharton professor of legal studies and business ethics, recently co-authored The Climate Imperative for Business, an article published in the California Management Review that considers: What do we have to do to change the world toward a sustainable path on the climate?

Their main conclusion: Business as usual is no longer an option. While maximizing profits might still be a fundamental business goal, it should happen within a ‘climate constraint.’

“Businesses can’t just say, ‘Hey, we’re going to follow the same path we’ve been following,’” notes Orts. “Business has an ethical responsibility just like consumers, citizens, governments and everyone else in society to help contribute to solving the climate problem.”

This climate imperative, the co-authors suggest, is something that all businesses should add to their priorities — because it’s the right thing to do for the planet. “There are limits on what you can do ethically as a business,” says Orts. “If you are in a business that is essentially destroying the world by producing fossil fuels, then you have an ethical responsibility to start to make a radical transition. You have to get serious about what you’re going to do. If you’re an oil company, you should have a plan by 2050 that you’re not an oil company anymore. You should make a transition into being an energy company. That doesn’t just mean selling off your assets to somebody else who is going to continue being an oil company. There has to be some sort of way that you encourage everyone to stop using oil.”

Companies that are part of the solution, like a solar-panel manufacturer that is trying to change the fossil-fuel electricity grid to solar power, aligns with the climate imperative: “Maximizing your profits if you sell more solar power is also advancing climate objectives. The two go together.”

“Find where you want to play a role…if you like politics or policy, one of the solutions is to change the incentives for companies. We still give huge tax subsidies to oil companies to drill for oil.” – Wharton Professor Eric Orts

The co-authors contend that while business activity has contributed significantly to the climate threat facing our planet, there’s no reason in principle why most businesses can’t operate in ways that are sufficiently climate-friendly, including the major carbon emitters like large fossil fuel, cement and agriculture companies.

Orts and Berkey recommend four climate actions; specific strategies that businesses can take to advance the climate imperative. They are: measure and reduce your carbon footprint; join with other firms to advance international objectives; invent products and innovative services for climate preservation; and get political and lobby governments for pro-climate legislation.

‘Quite a Long Way to Go’

Are businesses making this kind of progress toward slowing climate change? “There’s a lot of variation when it comes to how much firms have done to adjust their business models to be more climate-friendly,” says co-author Berkey, who is also a philosopher by training. “Some firms have made significant strides and taken real steps to change the way that they operate, while others have done little or nothing. And some have engaged in quite a bit of greenwashing – claiming to have become more environmentally friendly while doing little to actually improve their environmental practices. So, while some progress has been made, it’s been uneven and much too slow overall, and so there’s quite a long way to go.”

But don’t despair, says Orts. Students who care about the environment are in a unique position to become valuable problem-solvers. “Be active and find where you want to play a role,” he suggests. “We need inventions. How do we make electricity more efficient? There are lots of technical solutions that make the world more efficient using less energy and also allow us to use new types of transportation. If a student likes politics or policy, one of the solutions is to change the incentives for companies. We still give huge tax subsidies to oil companies to drill for oil. As long as the businesses are able to make money, then they will try to do so without following the ethical imperatives.”

For students who want to explore what success in climate action might look like, Orts suggests reading The Ministry of the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. “It imagines how you actually get to 2050 and the emissions curve is going down,” he notes.

Orts and Berkey are hopeful that more companies will embrace the climate imperative for business – because they believe the alternative looks bleak. We can no longer say we’re going to win-win our way out of this without giving something up, concludes Orts. “We have to stop using coal first, then we have to stop using oil, and eventually we stop using natural gas. If we don’t, then the planet literally burns up to an extent that humanity might not be wiped out, but life is going to be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short (borrowed from author Thomas Hobbes). Tens of millions of people are going to die from heat waves and drought and starvation…if we don’t do something about it.”

You can read the PLOS One research report HERE.


Conversation Starters

If you’re a climate activist, how do you feel about the role of business in climate change? Knowing that there are at least two sides to every story, do you see them as the evil-doer, solely responsible for the degradation of the planet? Do you believe that companies might agree with the climate imperative for business and radically change their business model? Why or why not?

Dr. Eric Orts says, “We can no longer say we’re going to win-win our way out of this.” What does he mean by this?

How do you want to play a role in helping to solve the climate crisis, especially at the corporate level? What is your vision for a totally eco-friendly business world? Share your story in the comment section of this article.

21 comments on “Does Business Have an Ethical Responsibility to Help Save the Planet?

    • The earth is currently burning. A reason for this as stated in the article is because of businesses and their non eco-friendly policies and business. I feel many businesses should switch to an eco-friendly way of conducting themselves as the point of a business is to expect that it will last “forever”. However, if we don’t take care of the very planet that we are doing business on, how can they expect to still have business “forever”. We should work to ensure the safety and health of our planet before the small momentary gains. Helping improve the Earth’s environment will be better for businesses in the long run. This is coming from a person who not only plans to go into business but also cares very much about the world. I know many organizations and some companies are working to switch their non eco-friendly policies. Some of them are even doing very well like the organization 4Ocean that works to clean up all the trash in the ocean and recycle it into bracelets for people to wear. If all businesses can work towards these goals of protecting our environment it would help not only the earth, but us, too. On that note, while I agree that having businesses change their ways can help our environment, they are not the only reason our Earth is in this state. We as the people living on this Earth are also partially to blame for the planet being in this state. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything to fix it. In fact if we as people just do a small act of recycling, reusing, or reducing in our daily lives, together we create a big impact. Some ways I can suggest right now is to properly dispose of your garbage, reuse glass bottles, or upcycle old clothes. Therefore, if you don’t know how to help protect the environment or be eco-friendly there are many, many ways you can. You just have to actively find it.

  1. A thought just struck me. In Singapore, there is such a thing called Nutri-Grade – an indicator pasted on the front of beverage product packaging (making it apparent for consumers to see) labelling how much sugar it contains. It’s based on a simple A (least sugar) to D (most sugar) scale. The effect of such an indicator is based on human psychology and incentivises consumers to pick a beverage with the least sugar.

    A similar concept could be implemented onto any product with an indicator that marks the negative impact made in the production of the product regarding carbon dioxide emissions. The indicator could follow a similar A – D scale.

    The effect of such an indicator pasted right on the face of a product’s packaging would be that it informs consumers about the level of environmental harm the good they are consuming caused. This could make consumers fall into a feeling of guilt if purchasing the good, due to having a good carbon footprint being a hot topic in society. This would likely increase consumer demand for goods that emit less carbon dioxide in production and decrease demand for goods that emit more carbon dioxide in production. In effect, firms will be aware of this and be forced to shift to a more environmentally friendly way of production to gain competitiveness in the market again.

    This thought was spontaneous and might be bonkers but it just hit me as I was reading this article and I think this indicator could solve the problem talked about in this article of firms choosing to not be environmentally efficient, by ‘publically humiliating’ their lack of consideration for the environment.

    • We like your thinking! Often simple ideas can have a powerful impact. More than likely, even the prospect of a “stamp of disapproval” on a product would motivate a company to clean up its carbon emissions and do better by the environment. Until then, though, you, as a conscious consumer, might need to do your research and hold companies accountable with where you choose to spend your money.

  2. From a global perspective, it is best for businesses to stop any activities associated with excessively harming our environment and pollution. However, pathetically speaking, still, some business did not aware of that, or they did not even care. The crux to curbing business-caused pollution is to make them aware of the fact that the resources are being depleted rapidly, and the day, which we always fantasize about as the end of the world, is coming soon. How to make those enterprises to be aware of the future not the present is the problem that needs to be solved.

  3. What a great article! Thank you, Diana, and thanks to Xiye, and all those who continue to speak up against climate change. Reading this article, I was reminded of my activism and climate change research for an article I won a gold medal for writing. This article was about the increased melting of Peruvian glaciers because of the German company RWE, which had a large carbon footprint. The fast-melting glaciers have become a threat to local communities as they may flood them. I wrote the article to bring awareness to this lesser-known issue.

    As a young activist, I find it empowering to see Xiye hold these businesses accountable. In my high school, the wrong policy was used to ban two library books, “Push” by Sapphire and “A Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah Maas. Since finding out about this unjust ban, the Panther Anti-Racist Union (PARU), my high school club, has done peaceful protesting supported by big organizations. PARU hopes to put the banned books back on the shelves until they are evaluated with the right policy. Also, PARU hopes that the policy will be fixed, or a new one will be created, to challenge school library books. The current policy is only used to challenge curriculum-based books, not library-based books. PARU also hopes that the new policy states that one adult cannot make the weighty decision of banning a book from all learners to read. Rather, parents can only stop their own children from reading a specific book. So far, there have been some results: the school board has started to advocate for the reinstatement of the challenged books for the time being. Over this summer, the school board will continue to meet and end up voting on the policy to see if it’ll be passed and then the books can be challenged fairly.

    In my experience, many teenagers are discouraged from speaking out, so then they go against those complaints and raise their voices louder to ensure that they are heard. I admire Xiye for speaking up and making positive change where it’s most needed.

    For the Harvard International Review contest, I wrote an article titled “Germany: Global Warming Combatant or Contributor.” In this article, I talk about how RWE, a big German energy corporation, has had complicated effects on Peru. It helped Peru undergo urban development, but also sped up the melting of their glaciers. This put their towns in danger, but RWE still has not taken the full blame.

    The problem arose when local Peruvian communities like Huaraz could not afford flood defenses. So, they turned to the company that was at fault for the over-melting glaciers. When RWE refused to pay up, Saúl Lliuya decided to sue for money that could be used to build flood dams. This is where Peru is also partly at fault for not taking on the case domestically. Lliuya found it hard to file a lawsuit against RWE in Peru and easier to pursue in the company’s homeland. If Peru had made it easier for this case to be handled at home, the company could possibly have been held accountable earlier on.

    Most companies like RWE come from countries that have high national EPI (Environmental Performance Index). Germany, RWE’s homeland, has a higher EPI than any country in the Americas, Asia, and Africa. While Germany houses RWE, Europe’s number one polluter in 2017, the country’s overall eco-friendliness is a context that needs to be considered. This also applies to other countries that have become environmentally friendly despite a few of their companies dragging them down.

    The article mentioned that some companies “try” to combat climate change, but I believe that they secretly are doing the opposite. Businesses pretend to take action to be liked or to earn more money. How can we tell companies and their countries that pretending in this case is no good? What can we do to make sure that they are taking action for the greater good?

    Based on some of the TED Talks that I have watched, a whole new industry has arisen to cut down these carbon emissions. Developers Bas Sudmeiier and Jan Wurzbacher have designed machines to capture and store carbon within rocks. While companies may have to pay extra to get rid of the carbon they emit, it is a small price to pay for the amount of climate change they have caused. Wurzbacher’s machines, Orca and Mammoth, will be the first commercial direct air capture and storage plants. They will lock away the carbon that is released by companies like RWE. This is exciting news!

    There has always been activism against climate change–it is nothing new. However, what is new is the solutions. It’s important to make sure that the bystander effect doesn’t happen when cutting down carbon. The bystander effect is when nobody helps out in a situation because they think one person will step in to do so. Activism reduces the bystander effect by encouraging people to develop solutions to these recurring problems. Still, it’s also time to look at the current solutions and to apply, fund, and perfect them. We are now in the stage of taking action.

    Now comes the time for businesses to truly show that they are combating climate change. Or else, there will be nowhere for them to grow their businesses. If businesses make the right changes quickly enough, then we may begin to see a greener world.

  4. On June 7, 2023, the smoke from Canada’s latest wildfire reached New York. You could tell: if the constant smell of smoke in the air and the burning in your lungs didn’t tip you off, the orange sky would’ve — something straight out of apocalypse movies. I remember classmates crowding around windows in the hallways to try to get a picture of the sky.

    As of this comment, this incident is barely a week old and yet a terrifying reminder of the effects of climate change. The wildfire that caused the worst air pollution in New York, according to Scientific American, came as a result of abnormally dry conditions in May, record-breaking heat, and lightning to ignite the wood. We have long known our environment is getting much warmer due to global warming. One of the major causes of global warming? Greenhouse gasses from burning fossil fuels. This means some of the biggest responsibility against climate change goes to such industries, like the ones mentioned in the article: oil, coal, natural gas, etc.

    This then begs the question: what will it take for these companies to switch to more environment-friendly operations? As Professor Orts has said, fossil fuel businesses have an ethical responsibility transition, and in fact, there’s really no reason why they can’t. If they won’t listen to their own academia, what will they listen to? How do we convince corporate executives? What else can we do?

    The answer is really convince them of the benefits of changing. Not just promising to change (aka. greenwashing), but actually changing.

    This will sound cynical/pessimistic, but for these companies and their CEOs, it’s all about profit — how much money they can obtain. Therefore, we should focus on that. Perhaps the public consciousness has to shift as well towards using more renewable energy sources and away from things that use fossil fuels as energy (say: cars and other transportation). In doing so, these companies will have less of a market and essentially forces them to switch.

    There’s also the matter of government. As Orts mentioned, oil still gets huge government subsidies, which incentivizes them to continue. Thus, we need to lobby for the government to stop supporting fossil fuel industries.

    As for what we can do? Well, Orts suggests that we — students, innovators, entrepreneurs, and the general public — can offer new solutions for businesses. That is, new technology that is better and more profitable, alternatives to non renewable energy. We can also start our own businesses that focus on green energy, which might prompt other companies to follow, or create change from inside said fossil fuel companies.

    These are not perfect solutions, and they raise other concerns. For one, what will be the impact of such a drastic change in energy sources? For another, how long will such a change take? Will this have other effects in the business world? In a 2016 article published in The Beam magazine with Professor Imre Szeman, who researches energy and environmental studies and social philosophy, he discusses the “social, cultural, and political aspects” of switching our main source of energy. He talks about how yes, energy transition will have drastic impacts because of how embedded it is in our society, beliefs, and economy, and thus will have to change themselves, it’s necessary for a better if different world.

    So are fossil fuel companies the sole cause for climate change and global warming? No, certainly not, as it truly does rest on other industries and us, the public, as well. But no one can deny that they play a large and visible role, and may need to be some of the first to change to motivate everyone else to take responsibility.

    The author of the article, Diana Drake, stated that “business is not always the enemy.” Who is? Not business as a whole but rather the companies contributing to climate change — the corporate executives that are slow to help fix the issue, if at all. However, as the recent Canadian wildfires suggest, this must change. We can no longer allow forests to continue burning on, the smoke spreading further than we could’ve imagined.

    I, for one, would like to never see an orange, foggy sky at noon anywhere again.

    • Jade, even as I begin to read your introduction, I am reminded of a similar situation that I had to face. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Silverado Fire raged from the nearby hills to a mere five miles from my neighborhood. While we obeyed the mandatory evacuation order, white speckles of ash drifted downwards in a background of hazy orange. When I looked northeast, all I witnessed were black smoke and red fire dancing on the tops of the once green hills. I agree with you Jade; I, too, would never like to wake up with an orange, instead of blue, sky ever again. I would never want to have to look through a mirror and see ash scattered through my hair.

      Your comment raises many concerns about the drastic impact fossil fuel companies have on climate change. The wildfire and numerous other disasters makes it all too clear. You create a compelling “call to action” with many various solutions and questions. I believe that your intake on such matters is important, as you show your view through the eyes of those most affected. Due to this, I have also taken my own experiences from climate change to address my opinions on a couple of your contentions.

      In your comment, you begin with the notion that the public themselves must shift to using renewable energy sources from fossil fuels in order to change companies’ target market. This process is logical, since it will eventually force companies to fail or adapt. However, fossil fuel companies cannot change their target market if there is no feasible alternative to change to. The alternative must support the economy in a semblance of the way fossil fuels have done since the past century. Otherwise, we would only be jumping from the frying pan and into the fire. According to a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, fossil fuels accounted for nearly eighty percent of the nation’s energy consumption. If any alternative is not sophisticated or efficient enough, it would degrade society as we know it. However, other alternatives are not advanced enough to be efficient or are dangerous in their own ways. To jump ship now would be forcing one to drown on a half-built boat.

      Nuclear energy, for one instance, is the next most economical choice behind fossil fuels. However, nuclear reactors generate radioactive waste that has the potential to last for hundreds of years. There is no solution for such waste except storing them, so increasing the production of nuclear energy would damage the environment and the people. Wind power is another popular renewable energy source. However, wind power is only usually generated in rural, remote lands. Each generator takes up too many plots of land and can increase noise pollution. Solar power is well-received by many, but it requires the sun to be present in order to produce energy (

      Changing public conscience cannot change the target market because there is nothing to change to. What the focus must go towards first is to the advancement of renewable energy sources. Solar panels could be developed to convert more solar energy into electric currents. Solar cells could also be adapted and installed onto windows in order to create more ways to gather solar energy. Larger turbines and increasing the energy output of wind energy generators could also create cost-efficient sources. After such development is completed to the extent that it is economical and eco-friendly, activism would be the next step for our goal of zero-emission. However, technological advancement must come first.

      You later stated that the government must discontinue their support of these oil companies. I agree with this concept; if fossil fuel companies lose their incentive from the government, they will lose much of their financial and social support. Of course, the issue about climate change is mostly the main reason to petition the government with. However, many attempts to fulfill emission reduction projects have not succeeded for several reasons. One of them includes the problem of profit. As you stated earlier, profit is a major obstacle in the fight against climate change. It doesn’t stop with the companies though, it extends on to investors and political officials. The environment, whenever it comes up, pops up before returning back to the back of the mind, while lesser economical concerns continue to plague their worries. Thus, along with the issue of climate change, another argument in the petition could be the correlation between inflation and fossil fuels.

      Since nearly everything in the economy (transportation, agriculture, production) is connected to fossil fuels, if the price of oil and gas goes up, so does everything else. The price of oil and gas has gone up for several reasons, including supply and demand. Since the beginning of the Ukraine war, Russia, a major producer of oil, has sold less oil due to the sanction imposed by the United States and the European Union. This then reduced supply and led to a massive jump in the price of oil. Since oil is connected to transportation, which is then linked to goods manufacturing and selling, the price of nearly every consumer goods skyrockets. In addition, the oil industry could not respond to demand after the events of the Covid pandemic. After the pandemic slump, supply drops as oil companies struggle to hire workers and drill new wells. Consequently, prices rise. Such examples have repeated at least once every decade, each leading to an economic recession afterwards. If this contention could be coupled with environmental activism, the petition may be able to convince the officials and investors who wish to retain financial gain.

      Finally, you quoted from Professor Szeman that fossil fuels are embedded in our culture and society. Either way we go, energy transition or continuing with the status quo, our lifestyle will drastically change soon. It is only up to us to see if it is for the better or the worse. However, if systematic change is going to occur, “us” needs to be every one of us. Everyone is a part of the global community and everyone makes our world as it is today. Thus, everyone must take care of the world that they live in. It requires the involvement and power of the poor and rich, young and old. High school students could take part through student activism, promoting sustainability for the future. The curiosity and ingenuity of younger minds can provide a plethora of new innovations and ideas. In a decade’s time, we will be the people at the wheel. The potential for the witnesses of natural disasters is even greater. Victims of forest fires and hurricanes, once realizing the cause of such calamities, have a new incentive that sets them apart from other people. However, remaining silent in this endeavor is equal to ignorance. The ignorant are no better than the sadists. We are at the last point in which we can turn around from the cliff. The imminent threat is clear in front of us, but those who remain silent only increase the power of those who pursue the boundless limits of their own greed. They leave their own fates with those who care nothing but for themselves.

      I appreciate your comment for this main reason: it brings to light the concerns in our current society while providing solutions from many perspectives. It was heartening to find that there are people who have faced similar experiences as me and are willing to take a stand. When I read your comment, I found you one of the role models that Professor Orts hoped for within high schoolers. Due to this, I am thankful for the effort you put into your comment. I am sure it will influence others’ opinions and thoughts as it did to mine.

      One can fight fire with water. However, one can fight fire with a fire of their own, a passion that fuels innovation and burns away cupidity. Combine all of our flames into a furnace, and it becomes a welcoming hearth of a world, burning away the cold and poison of avarice. Like you Jade, I hope to see the day when I am certain I will never see the haunting, dancing flames of wildfire at our doorstep. No one deserves a living nightmare such as that.

    • This article was an incredibly interesting read, and I really enjoyed learning about the philosophy of Dr. Orts as well as what Xiye Bastida has accomplished. Both are extraordinary. Just as interesting were the comments below, especially your comment, Jade. I really thought what you mentioned about the goal being to convince businesses to change was interesting, because I agree wholeheartedly. Businesses will not end up changing their ways if they believe there is no profit in it for them. There are a few examples of this. Elon Musk has stated that he bought Tesla because he believes that climate change is the next big threat to humanity. The fact is that Tesla was the first big company to break into the electric vehicle market, and so Musk likely saw this venture as profitable. Also, many companies around the world have participated in greenwashing, where they try to make their company appear more environmentally friendly than it actually is to improve their image.

      To expand on what you mentioned about convincing the companies to change, one way to do this would be to do what you mentioned, or get the government involved. You already mentioned how people could lobby the government to force them to stop rewarding fossil fuel production. Some specific ways of doing this could be letter writing, gathering media attention, and more. I think the type of laws to aim to get passed would be to expand benefits for green companies. Green companies already receive tax breaks by the government, such as grants and subsidized loans, and so having more of these incentives would motivate more companies to go green.

      Lastly, you talk about how Gen Z can start new, sustainable businesses to offset the damage done by other businesses. I agree that this is a good idea, but I’m disappointed that the responsibility to improve our world has to fall on our generation. Why do we have to be the ones to fix what other people broke, while other companies can just focus on their short-term profit and keep living on?

      Alexander B’s insightful comment below also discusses something similar. He mentions how Gen Z can really have an impact on the climate movement. He mentions how consumers gaining awareness can be the driving force for a company to change their ways. First, I’d like to say that I agree with this idea. I think that if the common people start boycotting brands and businesses because of their carbon emissions, businesses will change their ways to preserve their client base. However, is this really going to happen? I’d like to say that I’d band together with all the people that I know to stop buying from a company that’s not friendly to the environment, but when push comes to shove, if their products are cheaper, higher quality, or more convenient to use than those of other companies, then how many people are really going to join that boycott? Businesses have so much power in our society, since we all depend on them. In order to show businesses what the right thing to do is, we need to flip the power dynamic, but doing it could not be more difficult.

      One common theme in a lot of rhetoric about climate change is that the consumers need to take action about climate change, and in order to do so, they need to learn that it is a problem. However, knowing about climate change isn’t the issue. Now, 54% of Americans see climate change as a major threat, and nearly 70% of Americans support the U.S. government trying to become carbon neutral by 2050. However, even though these people know about climate change, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they know that climate change is one of the biggest problems we as a society face today, which is what they need to know in order to take action. They need to know why the climate matters so much. We need to ask ourselves: what does a world ravaged by climate change look like? Are we willing to live there?

      I think the key to fighting climate change as a whole is to find motivation for all of the people out there, whether it be businesses, consumers, or anyone else. We all have the knowledge to make change, but it’s hard for us to want to do so when climate change is seen as such a “far-off problem”. One way to increase the motivation of the people would be to give activists more of a platform instead of forcing them to fight for their screen time. Activists like Xiye Bastida and Greta Thunberg are already doing great work, and they deserve to be heard by more people.

      Climate change also needs to be made a problem that is more accessible to fight. Many times, just switching to environmentally friendly alternatives when buying products can cost a lot more money, which is something that many people do not have the luxury to spend.

      Overall, I agree with a lot of the elements of the comments I mentioned above. I believe that the best way to address the impact that businesses have on our climate is to shift the attitude we have as a country towards climate change. People in countries such as France and Germany have higher levels of concern towards climate change. Statistics show that 81% of French adults and 73% of German adults describe climate change as the biggest threat towards their country. However, America is different, because it is not united on climate action. Since we have a two-party system neither party agrees on climate change legislation. America needs to reach a consensus, instead of pulling its people one way or the other in order to get more votes. In this system, neither the government, businesses, or people know how to deal with climate change. It is only when both the government and the people change that businesses will finally get with the program. That means rewarding green companies, giving activists a platform, uniting as a country on climate change, and the people buying more from businesses who go green.

      That being said, I do think that the businesses have their own responsibility to go green, without anyone pushing them to do so. It’s unethical for them to leave the problem to everyone else just to get more profit, especially because businesses have so much power over consumers and their lives. If businesses learn to put aside greed for long-term gain, we’ll all see the benefits. All I know is that like Jade L., I never want to see a yellow sky again in my life.

  5. “Plastic only.” Despite the huge poster that is hanging on the wall in front of the plastic bin, I see three of the freshmen kids throwing away a bunch of textbooks in the bin.

    Approximately a hundred thousand plastic bottles are used and thrown away in my school every year, creating a massive amount of plastic waste. The problem is that not all of these bottles are trashed judiciously. Many are thrown away in the wrong recycling baskets after their use. Such wrongful habits of individuals cause negative effects on the environment, and the process of making plastic bottles involves melting materials, which induces carbon emissions.

    Because of the inefficient recycling method for plastic bottles, I realized that it’s creating a snowball effect that causes bigger and bigger problems as time passes. To resolve the severe situation, I gathered some of my friends, Alex, Ryan, and Michael, and created the Green Tigers Club since we all wondered about a common question: “How can we recycle these plastic bottles efficiently?”

    We first brainstormed and examined the cause of this incident. In our case, the school plays a role as a business since it provides income, occupation, and services to faculties and students. Initially, our school did not heavily invest in environmental sectors, which created a culture of throwing and disposing of trash in the wrong baskets. Leftover liquids and labels in the bottles were present while throwing the bottles, worsening the issue.

    Since our school’s uniform only provides long sleeves, the majority of students complained every summer. We realized such concerns through student council meetings and decided to create light and sweat-proof t-shirts: the Green Tee. Our t-shirts included four main procedures: 1) Classify all the plastic bottles into colors and remove impurities. 2) Cut the plastic bottles into nail-sized flakes. 3) Make a chip the size of a grain of rice, which is the raw material for the fiber. 4) Extract the yarn. We tested our feasibility and suggested this idea to the school administration.

    Then, we presented our idea to the school to earn the initial funding. As the school administration positively responded to our idea, we made a contract with them to give 10% of profits to invest in the preservation of the environment. As Professor Eric Orts mentioned in the article, “Business or a school should have an ethical responsibility just like everyone in society to help contribute to solving the climate problem.” Fortunately, our school shared a positive vision towards sustainability, which allowed our projects to start.

    To flourish our project, promotion played a major role. We created Instagram reels advertising Green Tee to students. We emphasized how one Green Tee uses 15 plastic bottles and 0.8g of hair dye. It has the iconic Green Tigers “For the Earth” logo on the front and the school logo on the back. Moreover, adding mash tissue, antibacterial, and enzyme processing on the inside of the texture made Green Tee flexible. From students’ perspectives, our uniforms provided comfort and unique styling, which attracted numerous students to buy our products. Green Tee brought huge sales for not only high school but also middle and elementary school students. As a result, in only two weeks, the Green Tigers made a huge achievement, effectively recycling about ten thousand plastic bottles.

    The Green Tigers’ identification of the problem and solutions to the school’s recycling policies was similar to this article’s proposal. As the article states, “One of the recommended four climate actions is to invent products and innovative services for climate preservation,” Green Tigers has not only accomplished reducing plastic waste but also fostered a culture of promoting environmentally friendly products in our school. As our success increased, the goal of Green Tigers shifted to reach the day without enough plastic bottles to make the Green Tee.

    It is difficult to see the dramatic change of the Earth at the expense of a small group of people. I highly agree with Professor Eric Orts’ statement about how we have quite a long way to go to solve environmental issues. However, if we approach environmental issues with the ethical responsibility of collective actions, I believe that the Earth can be restored. It has already been a year since the Green Tigers started this project. Green Tigers are still producing Green Tees, but we are producing fewer T-shirts than last year. The profits earned so far are used to replace high-energy-consuming machines in the school and donate Green Tees to countries that lack clothing. One day, I hope no one in this school will produce Green Tee, and I may be spreading a better eco-friendly culture.

  6. Climate change and how to save our planet is the hot button issue of today’s youth and it is not going away. There has been a radical shift in the awareness and acceptance of climate change as an irrefutable fact in the last ten years and this is a fantastic change. In the “us vs. them” fight, the “us” is growing bigger with more younger generations understanding the current climate crisis and the threat to our planet. The problems of climate change are here to stay, and businesses can no longer ignore and simply greenwash these issues away.

    Businesses have an ethical responsibility to have a climate imperative, say Professors Orts and Berkey and I absolutely agree. The irrefutable science paints a bleak picture of the future of increasing natural disasters, food and water shortages and the destruction of our ecosystems. As stated by Berkey in an earlier 2019 article, “People in positions of power and authority in the business world have a responsibility to take even much more controversial public positions in order to contribute to addressing really important moral issues. Climate change is one of the good examples of this.”

    That businesses have a potential influence on millions of consumers is a voice and platform that should not be taken lightly; there is an ethical responsibility in having that power and influence. When Orts states, “we can no longer say we’re going to win-win our way out of this without giving something up,” he knows major changes in business models with climate imperatives and sustainability goals will be needed. Compromise and greenwashing are not keeping up with the dire consequences of today’s climate change. Patagonia CEO Marcario has put it best, “The plain truth is that capitalism needs to evolve if humanity is going to survive.”

    It will be hard to motivate businesses away from the metric of profits but businesses can learn and be encouraged by other successful, climate friendly businesses to move in the right direction.

    If a business embraces a climate imperative to help protect and sustain our environment, that business will also educate and attract consumers who will move in the same direction. Each will support the other and a continuous cycle between consumer and business sustainability will start. I believe the pendulum will swing away from the mighty profit metric toward that reformed, climate conscious business model because the consumer, like the climate activist, is a growing voice of concern over the environment. These voices reflect a growing younger generation and consumer base not to be underestimated. There are many businesses already supporting the global climate movement as pointed out in the article and some of those companies like Patagonia, Burton and Ben & Jerry’s, well known to the consumer, have a far reach and influence.

    This is why educating the consumer and our younger generations about our climate crisis is key. Consumers and society can influence the direction of business. I believe more companies will agree to climate imperatives and change their business models because times are irreversibly changing, and the informed younger generation will be that driving force toward change. Many of these students will also enter the business world and exert their influence toward sustainability and protecting our planet. As business ethics professor Philip Nichols stated in a related article, these young activists “present a vivid and easily understandable expression of social norms and expectations….Given the very serious potential threat posed by climate change, it would seem to be an area in which every member of society should be engaged, and business is part of society. Business is not excused from social engagement just because it happens to be business.”

    From Greta Thunberg to our local climate-justice activist, Xiye Bastida, role models of our generation continue to engage, educate and inspire. We all want a better world in our future and we are finding our voices. Those businesses not helping to protect our environment will need to adapt if they want to keep up with our generation. For these businesses, realizing they have an ethical responsibility to help save our planet might actually ironically translate into more sustainable business for themselves in the long run.

    • Hi Alexander, I deeply resonated with the statements that you made, and I believe that you came up with ideas that could be effective guidelines for a sustainable community. I would like to add a few elements to your ideas that could provide a wider viewpoint of this ongoing issue of climate change.

      I noticed that you put an emphasis on the power and influence of major businesses, and the ethical responsibility that the businesses would have to take due to this power. I cannot agree more with this statement, but I believe that the power and the ethical responsibility that the consumers have is being too understated. The public, when united, has enough power to take down the biggest organizations, and businesses should acknowledge that the public could be as influential as them. A good example of this would be the Doosan company phenol incident in South Korea. A major Korean enterprise named Doosan accidentally leaked 1.3 tons of phenol in the Nakdong river in 1991, causing several casualties and health issues of innocent lives. This accident caused Korean citizens to unite in fury, which led to a national boycott. Doosan’s market share of beers dropped from 70% to 55%, and Doosan lost approximately 700 million dollars. This example demonstrates the power of the public, and why they should be treated as a whole instead of individual customers. And because of the influence that they have, I believe that the public and businesses hold mutual responsibility towards environment conservation.

      So what can businesses do to make the consumers take responsibility? An effective method that you put out was educating the consumers and younger generations, which is also being used in many organizations and facilities. Being educated and aware of climate issues are great, but I believe that there is another factor that is needed to make a change: motivation. Education and motivation cannot be viewed as a single achievement, because not all educated people are driven to put their knowledge to use. I recall a time when I went to starbucks with my friend, and we received our drinks with a paper straw. As soon as we left the shop, my friend stepped into another store to get a plastic straw, simply because the paper straws were too inconvenient. This didn’t happen because my friend didn’t know that paper straws were more beneficial to the environment. Sadly, consumers look for an immediate, tangible advantage and usually prioritize other things in life over protecting nature. I do agree that educating the customers of the situation is vital, but there also needs to be a will for the customers to complete the smallest actions that could contribute to our planet.

      There are many things that businesses can do to encourage motivation to the public. Using pathos to induce empathy out of the public for those who are experiencing a greater impact of climate change is a method that could be effective. I remember seeing a campaign hosted by the brand AVEDA. Since 1999, AVEDA has always hosted an event to protect water. Not only do they walk 6 KM (about 3.73 miles) every day to find clean water, participants also learn about the significance of preserving them, along with information about countries that are suffering from water shortage. The empathy created in this campaign could lead people to contribute in conserving the environment. Another idea that could be put to use is providing incentives to consumers that engage in eco-friendly activities facilitated by the business. Examples of incentives could be giving out coupons, gifting a product or even offering discounts. Even if consumers participate in these activities solely for the incentive, it could still lead them to take positive action regardless of the motive, which is also like helping them take baby steps for the environment. If the consumers are driven to take action, I believe that businesses could be able to engage in conserving the environment with speed and effect.

      Climate change is a global issue that humanity has to face together, and it is important for everyone to take action. If businesses and consumers are headed towards a united goal and cooperate efficiently to get to the goal, it would certainly make a difference.


  7. Fossil fuel producing companies are having a huge toll on the planet’s wellbeing. Signs of our Earth heating up are evident everywhere; ice caps melting in the Arctic, sea levels rising, more natural disasters, and just recently the orange foggy sky that descended on the Northeast due to Canadian wildfires. All of these effects were contributed mostly by humans, particularly the fossil fuel industry to generate massive profits at the expense of the planet we live on.

    However, some businesses have begun to change, by embracing the climate imperative and taking action towards it. Myself, I have watched countless Youtube videos on climate change and pollution, often culminating in a blanket of sadness as I watch our once beautiful planet filled with various ecosystems slowly turn into a gigantic desolate wasteland. I recognized that through business, one of the most prominent aspects of today’s society, can have the positive influence that is needed to slow down damage done to our planet. Furthermore, I believe that in our current world, business actually should have an obligation/ethical responsibility to save our planet. This has fueled me to start a business initiative which I called Envision Green.

    I created Envision Green to address plastic pollution’s harm on our ecosystems. After hours of brainstorming and research, I came up with the perfect idea. You know how all of the clothes that we buy come in plastic packaging? Well, a recent study by OECD has shown that 40 percent of plastic pollution derives from plastic packaging. I was struck by Ortz saying in the article that “[business] has the ethical responsibility to make a radical transition.” I believe that simply replacing plastic packaging with an alternative is a realistic approach, and one that is beneficial to our planet. Through working with a larger brand named Canned Goods, I was able to package my tshirts in recyclable aluminum cans. Each tshirt appeals to Gen Z, with its streetwear style vibe, while also promoting a positive message: One family, One Planet. I believe that businesses have the power to stray away from what we have been doing in the past, and look at the future with a climate lens, thinking, “How can we transition, or shape what we are doing so that it is more suitable for planet Earth?”

  8. The change in my community has further spurred my determination to take action. This article deeply resonates with me as an individual who wholeheartedly supports environmental causes on a personal level. It is refreshing to learn about Xiye Bastida’s story, which serves as an authentic inspiration, highlighting how youth activism can truly produce transformative effects.

    When I was young, I frequently found myself drawn to the coastline–to the point that I would find myself walking along the sandy shores. I would often enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and play in the sand. However, over time, the beaches became less enjoyable as local business’s began to spread pollutants which caused the once beautiful coastline to become hazardous. Nevertheless, it should be noted that many of these business’s were only indirectly responsible for the after effects.

    Nonetheless, Regarding the climate crisis, I firmly believe that businesses have an ethical duty not only to understand it but also to tackle it while upholding “climate constraints.” After all, to define Ethical responsibility would mandate comprehending, acknowledging, and ultimately implementing a diverse set of ideas, values, and standards that are intrinsic to the respective industry, whether it’s related to business or the environment. This is something most, if not all, businesses, can at some point try to implement into their business affairs.

    It is crucial for businesses to act with urgency and take practical measures to minimize their environmental effects. By joining forces, we can work towards a sustainable future.

  9. A short time ago in a galaxy all around us, coral reefs were living their best life. They were like the bustling cities of the underwater kingdom, with Nemo and his friends having epic adventures amidst the colorful corals. But then, a dark cloud loomed over the ocean, threatening to wipe out these majestic habitats within the next decade or two. At least that’s what my environmental science teacher had told us. At first, I brushed off these claims of coral reef extinction like an annoying mosquito buzzing in my ear. I mean, who wants to think about something as serious as climate change when there are funny cat videos to watch? But as time went on, I realized that climate change isn’t just a distant problem. I only really realized this when my science teacher showed the class a documentary on a company called Dupont.
    When I first heard about Dupont’s actions in Parkersburg, it hit me like a punch to the gut. Here was a company polluting the environment, dumping harmful chemicals into the local river like it was their own personal dumping ground. The consequences were devastating. The water became poisoned, the air contaminated, and the people of Parkersburg, like our fragile corals, suffered greatly.
    As I watched the documentary unfold, my anger turned into a deep sense of empathy for the people affected by Dupont’s actions. Their lives were forever altered, and it was difficult to fathom the magnitude of their suffering. I imagined myself in their shoes, unable to trust the water I drink or the air I breathe, and it struck a chord within me.
    What angered me the most was the stark contrast between the lives of the Dupont executives and the residents of Parkersburg. While the town struggled to breathe clean air and drink safe water, these rich individuals lived comfortably in their mansions, seemingly oblivious to the havoc they had wreaked. It was a heartbreaking tale of injustice and greed, where the powerful escaped the consequences of their own actions.
    It was a heartbreaking tale of injustice and greed, but there was a glimmer of hope. The people of Parkersburg refused to stay silent. They banded together, united in their fight against the giant corporation. They shared their stories, raising awareness about the environmental disaster that had befallen their community. Their voices grew louder, reaching the ears of activists, journalists, and concerned citizens all around the country. The story of Dupont’s misconduct became known far and wide, and people were outraged. They realized that this was not just a problem for one small town—it was a symptom of a larger issue.
    Big corporations were prioritizing profits over the well-being of people and the planet. As the public outcry grew, pressure mounted on Dupont. Lawsuits were filed, demanding justice for the victims and holding the corporation accountable for their actions. The story of Parkersburg became a rallying cry, a symbol of the fight against corporate greed and environmental destruction. Slowly but surely, the story began to change. Dupont was forced to face the consequences of their actions. They were held responsible for the damage they had caused and were required to pay hefty fines. The people of Parkersburg finally received some compensation for their suffering, although it could never truly make up for what they had endured.
    The story of Dupont serves as a reminder that even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges, there is still hope. It shows us that when we come together, united in our cause, we can make a difference. We can hold corporations accountable for their actions and demand a more sustainable and just future.
    Unfortunately for us commoners, climate change discriminates like a snobby VIP section at a club. While the wealthy also suffer, it’s the less fortunate who suffer the most. The rich can easily move out when their houses are flooded or their water sources become polluted, the same can’t be said for the low-income families. It is the marginalized communities breathing in polluted air from nearby factories, people that lack the resources to move to a healthier environment.
    If we want to create a better world, we must stand up against the powerful corporations that prioritize their profits over our well-being. We must raise our voices, share our stories, and demand change. Just as the people of Parkersburg fought against Dupont, we can fight against the injustices of climate change. Together, we have the power to shape our future. By taking small actions in our daily lives, by supporting sustainable initiatives, and by holding corporations accountable, we can build a world where everyone, regardless of their wealth or social status, can thrive in harmony with nature. The story of Dupont is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and a reminder that hope can triumph over greed.
    Sadly, oftentimes, it is even more complicated than it already is. As a member of my school’s track team, I often find myself running alongside the Hudson River, a waterway so polluted that even the resilient creatures struggle to survive. The once glistening river is now a sickly shade of green, tainted with oil slicks, and cluttered with debris crashing against its walls every few seconds. Despite numerous attempts to address the issue, nothing seems to have changed. The pollution in the Hudson stems from a long history of poor business decisions and a lack of understanding about the environmental consequences of our actions. This is why it’s crucial, now more than ever, that we take a stand against big corporations to prevent things like this from happening ever again. As much as we love our cat videos, we must prioritize the health of our planet and act swiftly to secure a brighter future.

  10. There’s something about reading about efforts to fight climate change that always saddens me. I find the idea of changing the way corporations work very innovative and genuinely altruistic.However the cynic in me cannot help but doubt the claims. With ideas like “invent something”, “create policies”,and asking companies to follow ethics before profit, it’s impossible not to be confused by the lack of clarity and seeming naivety.It’s worse because when faced with a threat so massive, so unstoppable, what would you do but grasp at straws? I live in New York city and every year since I can remember, a snow storm slams the city. I’d go to sleep and wake up to a winter wonderland. On a normal day the sound of cars, construction workers, and people are omnipresent. You’ll get so used to it you’ll forget it ever existed. Then you hear the sound of the storm. No cars. No people. No workers. Just wind tearing through the air carrying snow to the ground. It’s nature’s concert, and no man interrupts. Or so I thought.
    These last few years I can feel it. Each winter gets warmer and warmer. Snow is becoming more and more sparse. But you know what? When there are storms, it’s big. So it’s worth it. Right? Not this year. Roughly two inches of snow. How can that be right? How can I wait so long for so little? So when I question the author, I know.Maybe the reasons for my understanding are selfish, but I know we must continue to grasp at these straws, because regardless of the small differences, if it allows nature’s concert to play again, it’s worth it.

  11. *Please ignore my previous comment, some parts of it happen to be missing!

    A few years ago, I had the chance to complete an investigation on the extent to which multinational corporations represent the values, ideals, and actions of a B-Corporation. B-Corporation or B-Corp certifications are awarded to companies that attain high standards of social and environmental performance. For instance, the cosmetic chain The Body Shop and the household-favorite ice cream brand Ben and Jerry’s are both certified B-Corporations due to their commitment to demonstrating sustainability.

    As I read an aspect of this article, “And some have engaged in quite a bit of greenwashing – claiming to have become more environmentally friendly while doing little to actually improve their environmental practices”, I am once again reminded of a term I used, “greenwashing”. In a race to meet the demands of the ever-so-conscious younger generation of customers, I believe that companies all around the world strive to establish impactful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives that they can integrate with their brand image. Large coffee-chains such as Starbucks focus on supporting local communities and businesses when to ethically source their coffee reduce their carbon-footprint as well as explore innovative ways of cutting their water usage and limiting their waste.

    As a youth, I see more of my peers take into consideration eco-friendly practices associated with the 3R’s as well as carbon-footprint conscious diets such as veganism and thus make lifestyle changes that impact their purchasing decisions. I also believe that establishing and exploring climate-friendly initiatives can be beneficial to both businesses and consumers. While businesses are able to follow more sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices, consumers are also receive increased satisfaction, knowning that the products they purchase can have a role in protecting our environment, even if it is solely a slight change. I continue to look forward to how my favorite brands take on their role in the battle against climate change. We are all stakeholders of our Mother Earth, and it is our duty to fulfill our roles in protecting it.

  12. A student and a professor, Xiye and Professor Orts, are on two fronts.

    To deal with the “anti-climate” business baddies. Xiye mount attacks from the bottom. Like many youths, she puts businesses on edge by exposing their harmful policies. Eric Orts, the much older professor of business ethics, calls for a strategy from above. He argues that incentives such as subsidies and green technology are much more effective. In the end, Professor Orts seems to warm up to Xiye’s initial rebuke against businesses, arguing that youth can become policymakers; policymakers could go and persuade businesses to do the right thing.

    Orts’ approach is intelligent. He outlines a fundamental battle between the bad carbon-spewing sector and the green side. As long as the carbon-spewing sectors are incentivized to change, we’ll find ourselves with “fewer enemies”.

    That means fewer ones who suck up all our commons, and then ‘smoke’, spewing out both wildfires and gas. (I’ve always been glorifying catching these businesses, a sentiment that I learned after taking environmental science).

    The most vivid memories are always in the cool, chilly, setting of my environmental science classroom, pitch-black for the light from the documentaries. The documentaries, the core of my teacher’s heart, seldom flowed smoothly, and he [my teacher] filled it with odd remarks. He enjoyed watching greedy fuel corporations fall. In his eyes, they were uncaught criminals.

    There wasn’t a moment when the companies didn’t harm either someone or the earth. I remember a scene in one particular documentary, where the water in the Midwest was catching on fire due to nearby fracking. A bad enough emitter of greenhouse gas itself, I found that methane could do so much worse.

    My teacher, knowing that dirty had to be washed clean, blasted these images in our faces, hoping that as a youth, we would pursue incentives to make businesses go green. We ended up measuring our impact through unwritten laws and yet-to-be-achieved dreams. It was through this harbinger of green change, this myriad of our youth could powerfully counter the dirty tricks of corporations.

  13. The quote I would like to react to is one by Professor Orts: “This climate imperative…is something that all businesses should add to their priorities — because it’s the right thing to do for the planet.”

    The comments that Professor Orts has made on the importance of taking care of our planet and ensuring a sustainable future is something I absolutely agree with; in other words, I stand completely with you on what you believe the final goal should be. I, as well, believe that if no action is taken in preserving the environment, then our planet and its citizens will suffer from catastrophic effects. Besides, all companies indeed play a major role in being more sustainable. However, l wish to explain my view on what I feel seems like a more viable action plan to achieve the goal because I believe that in order to achieve a level of environmental sustainability that is desired to reverse the effects of climate change, that the process is surely more complex than using “soft power” by persuading and putting social pressure on companies for them to be more sustainable; simply promoting more eco-friendly research and development (R&D) as well as disincentivizing firms in industries with large carbon footprints from continuing what they’re doing seems a little unrealistic- likely because I am rather cynical and put more weight on the assumption made in traditional economics, believing that humans are selfish and prioritize their own benefits. I think that the most effective way to approach this issue generally, applicable to all businesses, is to ensure that the “selfish needs” of humans are satisfied- this means that they receive similar profits even when they are environmentally sustainable. While this may seem like a very generic and obvious answer, allow me to explain further. I think that because all business are profit- incentivized, the only possible reason why many companies have not adapted their companies to a more eco-friendly system is because it does not improve their profits, if not reduce them- otherwise, what other reason would keep businesses worldwide from being not eco-friendly? Take a simple example with using recycled plastic. Someone is going to have to pay for the recycled plastic, which involves its transportation costs, labor costs in the plant, and the costs of running the plant, including the purchasing of expensive chemicals that are used in the process. It is also known that recycled plastics are less stronger than “virgin plastic.” Instantly, companies that might want to use recycled plastic face two issues. One, it’s upfront cost is already more expensive. Two, it’s quality is inferior to its cheaper counterpart, which may delay shipping time and/or tear apart before reaching the consumer, decreasing consumer satisfaction. From a profit point of view, there is zero incentive for the company to switch to the more eco-friendly option. This is where the importance of government intervention comes to play (which may be more applicable for countries of the global north as economic development is more likely to be less of a priority in the country’s development plans). Mainly, the government can come up with negotiations with companies in these industries and ensure that profit margins for these companies will remain the same as forecasted. If companies in that industry are not generating enough profits compared to what was expected as a result of becoming eco-friendly, then the government can agree to subsidize that amount difference- and this can happen to the extent where if a company believes their profits are expected to exponentially increase in the future and that expectation is also verified by the government, then those figures would be what the government pays for. If the government is on a tight budget, then they can limit the amount of changes that these companies need to make to be more environmentally sustainable (the above solution is under the assumption that being environmentally sustainable reduces profits). But that is just one possible solution for a country with a large national budget trying to maintain a good relationship between itself and its companies. I could go on forever explaining how this conception can be realized in other countries under different circumstances, but just seeing this brief solution for this specific country type can already become quite complicated. But, to end up this thought, I completely agree with what Professor Orts is advocating in terms of climate change action and how important it is to put more emphasis on the social responsibility of companies. However, if it is ultimately true that most firms are profit-incentivized, then I think that profit is something that should not be stripped of its importance, but instead, regarded in a world where it enables us to purchase scarce goods and services, some important for human survival, when we all have unlimited needs and wants.

  14. During her visit to COP27, Xiye Bastida quotes “I can cry thinking about my hometown being flooded and that’s what we need to bring back into these rooms. The emotion of what it feels to see your home being stripped away from you.”

    In the 1999 Golcuk Earthquake in Turkey, the city was reduced to ruins as the sea flooded whole blocks. My elders describe an aura of desperation constructed with the countless deaths and immense economic losses. The flood, caused by the earthquake, had left its mark on the people I grew up with. So, I empathize – even imagine as there are photographs- with my hometown being flooded, and I must admit it is an intensely agonizing experience.

    Bringing such a tragic memory up, Bastida underlines that the climate actions taken by governments and businesses lack empathy for those who are suffering because of the ongoing crisis. Despite my belief in these proceedings should be done rationally, the urgency of quick actions outweighs rationality which often benefits everyone. Someone has to step forward to take responsibility with the awareness of “the emotion of what it feels to see your home being stripped away from [them]” before everyone around the table becomes complicit in the Earth’s demise.

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