Environmentalism and Entrepreneurship
When we talk about remedies for climate change, the conversation frequently centres around political solutions. Debates about environmental issues typically involve discussions about policies like carbon pricing, emissions regulations, transportation, and more. Governments’ primacy in climate change conversations is self-evident, and rightfully so, they wield the most direct influence in society and have enormous power to affect change. Governments are not the only players, however, and we cannot rely on politicians and diplomats alone to save us from ourselves. There is enormous power to be had in the hands of citizens and businesses (or citizens influencing those businesses) and it’s important for us to acknowledge that largely underappreciated potential.
A big factor in why we frequently forget about the role of individuals or businesses in talking about climate change is because of the often indirect nature by which they can change society. Nobody would deny, of course, that businesses have an impact on the way our society functions, but the link isn’t quite as nice and neat as with government. When we talk about political solutions to climate change, they are direct and highly tangible; the government proposes to price carbon at “X” dollars per tonne, which they expect to reduce emissions by “X” tonnes by a certain date. These solutions are easier to comprehend and easier to debate than are citizen-led solutions, however, we can’t forget the immense impact that businesses and individuals can have on tackling environmental issues. Government’s do not simply decree that greenhouse gas emissions fall and then it is so, they pursue policy avenues to act on citizens and firms who in turn lower emissions through changes in behaviour.
I should note that I firmly believe that governments are the primary actors when it comes to solving climate change. At its very core, a government exists (or should exist) to serve its citizens; to protect them and to promote their long-term flourishing. These fundamental goals necessitate that governments act on environmental issues and seek policy options for dealing with them. But in a world where market economic systems dominate, particularly so among the biggest emitting countries, we should never ignore or diminish the role of individual citizens and businesses in creating a better, more sustainable future. That’s why the focus of my series is on how businesses and citizens can take environmental action and lead from the ground up.
For my next article, I sat down with Junior Achievement of Northern Alberta and NWT, an organization very near and dear to my heart being a former “Achiever” myself. Junior Achievement provides education to students from elementary through high school about “work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs” all while instilling the sense of environmental consciousness that lead to them being recognized as the recipient of the Ron Kruhlak Award at the 24th Annual Emerald Awards. Stay tuned for next week!
This article was written in partnership with the Alberta Emerald Foundation.