The Other Footprint: How Business Are Trekking off the Beaten Path

“Carbon footprint” is defined as “the total amount of greenhouse gases produced directly and indirectly to support human activities,” according to Time for Change. In 2014, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, there were 15.1 trillion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. According to Fortune Magazine, seventy-one percent of these emissions were produced by around one hundred companies. The contrast between the meager number of companies and their large carbon footprints demonstrates the environmental toll of business innovations in production and industrialization. The companies most responsible specialize in oil and gas; they include Exxon Mobil, Gazprom, and Pemex.

Currently, there is an absence of government efforts to ameliorate, or even recognize, this problem; most recently, the United States pulled out of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. Moreover, President Trump believes that climate-change targeted policies cut down the competitiveness of U.S. markets. The Washington Post reports that President Trump is actually encouraging U.S. fossil-fuel production to boost the domestic economy, rejecting the notion that these fossil fuels contribute to carbon emissions. His administration claims that the nature of fossil-fuel emissions is unpredictable, with the climate changing into “new states that are very different from those experienced in the past.”

Similar to the government in its inaction on climate change, several companies do not have any plans to reduce their carbon footprint, at the expense of the environment. Examples include Costco and Berkshire Hathaway. The New York Times shares that Costco is unwilling to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in fear that such actions will detriment company growth.

Though certain companies may lack in their efforts to aid the climate and limit greenhouse gas emissions, a significant number of businesses are already implementing goals to reduce their carbon footprint in the long run. The New York Times writes that these businesses include Google, Walmart, and Bank of America. The publication also noted that Google specifically has plans to operate solely on renewable energy by the end of 2017. Now, a news site powered by Northrop Grumman, highlights businesses that have publicized the ways in which they are reducing their carbon footprint. A particular business that the source mentions is Nestlé. Eighty-five percent of the electricity used in their factories in Mexico is sourced from wind farms, and it utilizes coffee grounds as extra fuel in twenty-two factories. Another company that has taken initiative is Siemen’s. The company invested around $100 million to create distributed energy systems and produced 100,000 energy-efficient models for the company’s vehicles.

Greenhouse gas emissions pose a serious environmental threat. If the US government is not willing to significantly  to minimize their effects, then it is ultimately up to businesses to move forward to keep our climate clean and reduce our carbon footprint.