Welcome to the inaugural “Money For Green: If you want my money, save the planet!” post!
Here’s what lies ahead:
Now that you’re ready to get started, let’s lay down the baseline(1):
Research and intuition both align in backing this, but our short-sighted financial mechanisms and incentives fail to price in the negative effects of harming the environment and endanger society’s health, happiness, and financial stability. Climate change has already and will continue to wreak havoc(2) in the(3) trillions of dollars(4).
Who is causing most of the damage, but gaining financially? Corporations and the private sector.
Who is losing the “trillions of dollars”? For the most part, governments that dispense emergency services and lose tax revenue due to lost productivity or lost opportunity as a result of climate change.
Who is paying the cost otherwise? The everyday consumer-citizen.
This framework will be a recurring theme where we aim to give agency to the consumer-citizen to influence both the public and private sectors.
Even in this scenario, we believe there are no bad actors, only bad incentives.
They seem like the villains here, but they’re just doing what they’ve been told to do, make as much money as fast as possible. With the path to money paved with coal, plastic, and pollution, they gladly took it — all while staying financially isolated from the negative economic impacts they caused.
At the same time, there’s momentum where corporations now understand there’s money to be made in sustainability and contributing to a cleaner environment, but I hear directly from company leaders -- even those who want to do something about climate change -- that the economic case is not concrete nor large enough to strongly influence their current decision making.
For a functioning society, we all rely on governments to have the long term interests of the people and society as a whole in mind — especially ensuring a livable planet. The decisions they make and policies/regulations they pass should help reconcile our short term goals with our long term needs. They are judged against metrics like approval ratings that are a rough proxy for future voting and increasing GDP or the “local economy”, which serve as their incentives to stay in power.
While governments should be held accountable to citizens in more ways than that — including in ways we haven’t implemented yet — we can make the strong case that addressing climate change is in their best interest as well as the people’s. Fortunately, there is momentum in the current balance of power in America and around the world to enact large scale policy to address this issue, by creating not only penalties, but substantive investments that help incentivize corporations to contribute to sustainability.
The rest of society, the consumer-citizens, mostly seem to behave as bystanders, observing the jockeying between the public and private sectors, seemingly powerless. Corporations generate immense waste, governments rollback environmental protections, and mostly this group stays silent and consumes what is made available out of convenience.
But now, consumer-citizens are gaining momentum. They are realizing the dire gravity that operating under the status quo entails and discovering their agency on how to make a difference.
They should be the most powerful group of the 3 as the money, the votes, all lie with this group. And yet, why should they suffer from polluted water, poor air quality, and devastating natural disasters caused by short-sighted decisions it had no say in? Their buying power and voting power are more than enough to enact change.
Corporations know conscientious consumers are gaining leverage, Some fear us, some embrace us.
Governments know informed citizens are rising up. Some fear us, some embrace us.
To both of these groups we’ll say:
Whether through purchases or taxes, if you want my money, then save the planet!
Every week we’ll envision a different win-win-win sustainability scenario among the private sector, the public sector, and the consumer-citizens and provide action items to make it a reality, so that we can say:
Who is saving the planet and gaining financially? Corporations!
Who is saving “trillions of dollars”? Governments!
Who is reaping the benefits otherwise? Healthier, happier consumer-citizens!
With your support, we’ll also reach out to industry and sustainability leaders, host group webinars and discussions, and start sourcing opportunities to make more of a difference! So please….
While the content may seem US centric, this framework can apply to the whole world’s fight against climate change. In the spirit of solidarity and collaboration, every week we’ll also highlight other countries’ efforts for inspiration!
This week’s inspiration is Copenhagen, Denmark and its quest to be the first carbon-neutral capital city in the world!
Congratulations on getting this far! Since this is our first post, please help us, help you, help the planet!
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