It’s a new year and a new chance for each green business to make environmental progress.
The GreenBiz Group released its annual State of Green Business Report for 2022, revealing major innovations happening in the business world across numerous fields. Given the rapid escalation of climate change across the world, momentum and hope are what we need—and exactly what visionary businesses are doing.
Below are the five biggest trends to be on the lookout for as the year continues.
- Climate Tech on the Rise
Green chemistry, low-carbon steel, cleaner energy. Technology is a huge ally in the fight against climate change and as inventive minds create more awe-inspiring tools, businesses are smart to start using them, if possible.
As Joel Makower writes in the report: “Individually and in concert, these future-facing advances stand to reinvent large swaths of the economy.”
- ESG Investing
In the financial world, there’s a strategy taking people by storm: socially responsible investing (SRI), or sustainable investing. This intentional approach to being conscious of where our money is going considers ESG (environmental, social, and governance) criteria. Individuals and groups are recognizing that issues like environmental impacts, board diversity, and more actually do have financial impacts as well as societal impacts and need to be considered when debating where to invest.
“The world’s largest banks, insurance companies, institutional investors and pension funds are increasingly moving funds out of polluting industries,” Makower explains. “And into companies and funds that seem to be part of the solutions.”
It’s an imperfect science, with several industries and companies making loud promises (like going net zero, or carbon neutral) while severely lacking actual progress. Still, the divesting movement is going in the right direction.
To find out more, and learn how your workplace can adopt more sustainable investing practices, visit Green America.
- Lobbying for Change
In 2021, US greenhouse gas emissions rose by 6.2%, according to NPR. When statistics like this get worse, it’s easy to lose faith in the powers that be—but people aren’t giving up.
The business community that lobbies for progress on environmental stewardship and social justice needs to be more politically engaged than ever; business voices in support of strong action to address the climate emergency, for example, can make a real difference.
“That’s just beginning to change,” Makower writes. “The pressure of activist and advocacy groups pushing businesses to get off the sidelines and take a stand is rising.”
Green Americans have seen this kind of pressure work. In March 2021, after the action taken by over 40,000 people, Godiva announced steps to address child labor in the cocoa industry. Last October, Green Americans put the pressure on CVS with Skip the Slip campaign and now in all 10,000 stores, CVS uses non-toxic, recyclable receipt paper.
Makower warns that if businesses don’t adhere to the knowledge and pressue of activists, “it will be that much tougher to make progress,” but the fight is worth it.
- Wealth and Accessibility
Many of the great technological advancements and abilities to address climate change are exclusive to the wealthier nations of the world. This is an especially egregious fact given the countries hit hardest by environmental disasters are the ones least prepared for them, and with the least amount of wealth to mitigate damage.
“If the inequitable distribution of COVID vaccines is any indication, the world’s richest countries are ill-prepared to adequately care for those in need,” adds Makower.
This was a major talking point at last year’s COP 26, the latest United Nations meeting to forge agreements between nations on climate change.
Rich countries, including the United States, are refusing to contribute to a loss and damage fund that would provide poor countries with money to address the billions of dollars in damage already resulting from the climate crisis. This continues a pattern of wealthy countries failing to provide the funds needed to help poorer countries reduce their emissions and invest in climate adaptation.Todd Larsen, Green America Executive Co-Director
To truly create equity in our planet’s fight against climate disaster, the wealthiest nations—and companies—need to step up.
- State of the Planet
Being honest about the state of climate change is not an easy truth to swallow, but it is necessary in order to address and ideally prevent future disasters.
The Green Business Report notes the various areas of progress are impressive and crucial, but they are not happening at a fast enough pace.
As stated previously, greenhouse gas emissions increased in 2021, exceeding scientists’ expectations. These dangerous emissions will likely rise even more this year. Unfortunately, that’s not all.
The Report also points out a continued loss of biodiversity across the planet, the loss of fisheries of marine ecosystems, and the growth of water stress as it’s predicted over half of the world’s population will live in water-stressed regions by 2050.
These are sobering, and sometimes frightening, truths but it’s not over yet and there’s much more to be done.