The Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility in Climate Change Mitigation

climate change - crops wilting in too hot weather
Posted by: Dana Colson Category: Climate Change, Corporate Sustainability

The Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility in Climate Change Mitigation

For years, we’ve been admonished to think globally and act locally to mitigate the effects of climate change. While much of the onus for carbon neutrality has been put on individuals, industry has had a greater impact on the environment by far. This is one reason we look to corporate social responsibility for help in climate change mitigation.

According to the latest information available from the UN’s Climate Action Report, 75% of all Global Greenhouse Emissions (GHGE) and 90% of carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to fossil fuels, which still account for the majority of power production.

This remains a problem despite our best efforts to urge a transition to renewable energy investment. The report further states that the top five contributors to climate change are:

  • Power generation
  • Manufacturing
  • Deforestation
  • Transportation
  • Food production

While it’s important for each of us to do our part, it seems that corporate culpability requires some responsibility on the part of business leaders to address the problem of climate change.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a catchall phrase that describes the efforts of corporate entities to promote environmental responsibility as well as support social and economic change. Some businesses contribute to the cause through actions like in-house initiatives to implement green technology and other eco-friendly business practices. Others have drafted formal ESG policies that outline their stance and goals toward achieving high ethical and environmental standards.

This is a great start. But it’s only the beginning, and the planet is running out of time.

The Impact of Climate Change on Society and the Planet

Climate change has far-reaching adverse effects on both the environment and society. Even those who live in urban areas with little wildlife and few green spaces are adversely impacted by the effects of climate change.

In addition to an explosion in urbanization, drought and inclement weather drive higher percentages of affected populations into already crowded and chaotic cities.

These aren’t the only socio-economic issues related to climate change. Others include:

Rising temperatures:

When the average annual temperatures increase, it results in record heat waves, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels. This poses risks to ecosystems, biodiversity, and natural habitats.

Extreme weather events:

Climate change intensifies extreme weather events like hurricanes, floods, droughts, and wildfires. These events not only significantly damage ecosystems, but also destroy infrastructure and threaten lives.

Changing precipitation patterns:

Climate change alters precipitation patterns, leading to more frequent and intense rainfall in some regions and prolonged droughts in others. This disrupts agriculture production, affects water availability, and threatens food security.

Ocean acidification:

Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to ocean acidification. This harms marine ecosystems and coral reefs, and has a cascading effect on fish populations. It also affects the coastal communities that rely on the fishing industry for food and economic viability.

These effects can be felt on a social level, harming human populations around the world through the spread of heat-related illnesses and infectious diseases. Degradation and depletion of natural resources result in problems with food security and water scarcity.

Continued industrialization and pollution further impact air, water, and soil quality, which in turn threatens human health and biodiversity.

As you can see, the impacts in each of these areas are interconnected. That also means progress in one area could positively affect others. However, it will only happen when we take mitigation seriously and move proactively rather than from emergency to emergency.

Addressing climate change requires collective action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, promote sustainable practices, and adapt to the changing climate. Working together is the only way to minimize the adverse effects on the environment and society.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Climate Change Mitigation

Although each of us leaves a carbon footprint, the role of corporations in accelerating the effects of climate change cannot be overstated.

Every day, we see the effects of doing little to nothing to reverse the effects of climate change. We’ve long passed the point of inaction.

Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility in Climate Change Mitigation

Making a serious commitment to environmental stewardship has its perks. In a world where people put less faith in corporations and governments, actionable CSR programs can improve a brand’s image and reputation as a company that cares about society.

Business entities needn’t fear putting people over profits, either.

Investment in eco-friendly businesses and technologies means supporting growth industries that will impact developed and emerging economies through job creation, industrial and technological innovation, and infrastructure investment.

It will further impact society by reducing the problems of food insecurity and water scarcity. And let’s not forget that it mitigates the resultant impact those issues have on economic, mental, and physical health.

However, it’s not enough to pay lip service to the idea of CRS as a corporate mission without taking measurable, meaningful steps to reverse corporate environmental impact. Even a locally owned SMB can make a difference by becoming involved in climate and social issues in their community through:

  • 42Starting in-house recycling or ride-sharing programs
  • Participating in fair trade through purchases and by supporting companies who engage in fair trade practices
  • Corporate policies that benefit the environment
  • Making socially and environmentally conscious investments
  • Commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Improving labor policies
  • Charitable giving and volunteerism

Leading by Example: Successful CSR Initiatives

If you need examples of how companies are making a difference, you need only look at the following success stories CSR activities.

1. Bosch: This global energy and building company has been carbon neutral since 2020 at all 400 of its corporate locations around the world. In addition, they’ve committed to reducing upstream/downstream supply chain emissions by 15% percent by 2030.

2. Pfizer: The pharmaceutical giant has gone a long way toward repairing some of the reputational harm experienced by Big Pharma over the past dozen years or so. With the help of NGOs around the world, their Global Medical Grants program has dispensed billions of dollars in grants to countries like Haiti that are experiencing devastation, extreme weather events, and health emergencies.

They take a multi-faceted approach through direct product donations, grants, and access solutions. As a result, Pfizer was voted among the World’s Most Ethical Companies® by Ethisphere in 2022 and 2023.

3. New Belgium Brewing Company: The US-based beer maker is an employee-owned and operated cooperative that considers social and environmental well-being to be “intricately intertwined.” As such, they’ve set a goal for complete carbon neutrality by 2030, and they’ve introduced innovations in wastewater management and energy consumption.

The company also donates $1 from every barrel of beer sold to further its commitment to charitable initiatives, corporate values, and ESG goals.

Since success always breeds competitiveness in the corporate culture, these stories have inspired other companies in all industries to strive for the same levels of environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

Final Thoughts

Corporations have the resources to enact meaningful policies toward social responsibility in mitigating climate change. Prioritizing such initiatives will go a long way toward protecting brand reputations while benefiting society and contributing to global efforts in climate change mitigation.

If you want to learn more about you can help, contact us or join our worldwide movement for positive change.

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