5 Reasons Why Now Is the Time To Rebuild a Green Economy During a Global Pandemic
Recently, the very thing that has pushed sustainability from the front page is the same thing that has reintroduced the conversation of our need for a sustainability plan.
There is a concern among climate scientists that environmental issues are being pushed from the headlines. Experts worry that when the problem is no longer front-of-mind, the chances of the problem getting solved drop sharply. When was the last time you saw a report about the environment? As much of the world’s media over the last few months have been focused on the current global pandemic, the conversation revolving around building a green economy isn’t always the main headline. Until recently a Reuters article published in June, 2020 discusses the huge strides South Korea has recently made in their Green New Deal. Covid-19 has changed life and business as we know it, including the way businesses are approaching the rebuild of our global marketplace with a focus on making a transition towards a green economy.
Out of tumult often comes good. And instead of "returning to normal," we are all beginning to reevaluate what "normal" is and striving to find ways to come out better than before. And one of those ways is to rebuild with a focus on a green economy.
Why Go Green?
In a previous post we answered the question of "what is sustainability?" and outlined why it is important for business. Sustainable development has myriad advantages for your business because it:
- Increases profitability
- Helps attract young talent
- Saves time and money
- Is the right--and often legal--thing to do
- Has been adopted by global business leaders
- Promotes a positive and ethical company persona, leading consumers to shop green
An article released from the UN Environment Programme, makes a compelling case for rebuilding with the environment in mind:
In a green economy, growth in employment and income are driven by public and private investment into such economic activities, infrastructure and assets that allow reduced carbon emissions and pollution, enhanced energy and resource efficiency, and prevention of the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
For many of us, quarantine resulted in a greater appreciation for nature. We no longer take for granted forest hikes or beach strolls. And as important as sustainability is for protecting these things, they aren't the main cause for concern. This article from Sustainability X drives home the necessity of a green economy:
The warming of Earth’s surface because of the increase in carbon dioxide emissions and increased energy consumption is a global phenomenon. There must be dedicated participation of all members of society, including CEOs, world leaders, activists and educators.
What the commission is saying is that we should--and must--rebuild a green economy. Our survival depends on it.
With Every End, Comes a Fresh Start
It's easy to get discouraged. But arming yourself with the facts and data can help shed light and effect change. There are plenty of things businesses, governments, and people can do to support sustainable practices. In a previous blog , we discussed how businesses can start with sustainability. And yes, it's possible to get started, even during a global pandemic.
The Good News
Covid-19 taught us that humans can adapt--and that we can do so with remarkable speed. What better time, then, to overhaul economic practices with a view towards a greener future? We have the exciting opportunity to reinvent what “normal” is. The time is now. And in this new reality, the timing couldn't be better.
1. Fossil Fuels are on Their Way Out
A recent article from World Economic Forum makes a compelling case. Phasing out fossil fuels makes sense, the article states. Renewable energy technology is more widely available than ever. Additionally, this technology is often less expensive than fossil fuels. The plunge in oil prices is a clear sign that we no longer need or want to depend on fossil fuels. When oil prices plummeted, the call to end subsidies once again rang out. The article argues that now is the time to redirect the $5.2 trillion a year spent on fossil-fuel subsidies. Putting it towards building a green economy is a much wiser spend. This is something the G7 countries have pledged to do by 2025, and it makes sense to speed up and bolster this endeavor.
2. There's Still Time
Carbon sequestration is the removal of harmful carbon from the atmosphere and trapping it where it can't do any more damage. Experts are optimistic that if we shift from industrial to regenerative agriculture, we can sequester carbon in soil. Regenerative agriculture seeks to help soil heal itself. Nature does the work. Regenerative methods include rebuilding soil organic matter through holistic farming and grazing techniques. And according to experts, these methods will enable us to sequester carbon in soil. Experts are also saying that we will be able sequester carbon at a rate that is "sufficient to reverse the climate crisis."
In a time when the words “climate crisis” and “good news” aren’t often found next to each other, this is heartening indeed. There is still hope. There is still time to reverse the mistakes of the past and develop a sustainable, green economy. Science and technology are leveling the playing field tilted by an irresponsible past.
3. It's Financially Appealing
A positive side-effect of agriculture turning from industry to regeneration? It would "turn a profit, enhance economic and environmental resilience, create jobs, and improve wellbeing in both rural and urban communities," according to the World Economic Forum.
An article by HSBC reports that corporations with a sustainable approach to supply chain are better at weathering disruptions than those with more antiquated practices. When a business can keep going, even in the face of crisis, it doesn’t lose time and money. In fact, it picks up speed. Sustainability is a competitive edge.
The oil and gas industry loses $30 billion worth of methane every year from inefficient operations. This has led them to work with experts to find the best ways to manage emissions faster and more efficiently.
4. Individuals are Ready--and Companies Are, Too
A large percentage of the world has shown their ability to adapt, pitch in, and work for the greater good. Just think about the way everyday life has changed. You wear a mask now, you’ve washed your hands better than you ever have before, and you shop local.
John Berry of Queens University Belfast believes we can use this global willingness to "shop local" and put it into a broader economic perspective. "Economic stimulus measures could build on this by ensuring large public sector organizations that are anchored within communities, such as councils, colleges or hospitals, source their food from local producers," states an article Berry wrote in April.
Companies have changed, too. The majority of companies listed among the Top 100 Sustainable Companies of 2020 have arrived there by rethinking the status quo. They have turned from fossil fuels and old, inefficient practices to find greener--and more profitable--paths.
Businesses don’t need to be global conglomerates to get on this list. As we’ve said before, there are more resources for becoming a green and sustainable company than ever before. With resources available like Overlap [insert link], a software platform connecting businesses to experts within the sustainability space, companies can rethink the way they do business and make the necessary changes towards rebuilding a greener economy.
5. Positive Changes Lead to Positive Outcomes
For policymakers responding to the current crisis, the goal should be to support citizens’ livelihoods by investing in renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. Now is the time to start redirecting the $5.2 trillion spent on fossil-fuel subsidies every year towards green infrastructure, reforestation, and investments in a more circular, shared, regenerative, low-carbon economy.
COVID-19 has changed the way we do business, globally and in our communities. More than ever, we are focusing on what really matters--our people, our planet, and our resources. The world is rebuilding itself, and with sustainability practices, we have the opportunity to reconstruct a greener economy. Overlap [insert link] is committed to being a part of this restoration and is here for advice, resources and tools when your company decides it's ready for a green new world. Reach out to one of our team members to learn more about our services or view a demo of our platform featuring global experts within the sustainability space.