Emission Cuts and the Common Consumer: A Vehicle for Conversation
by Acotter on October 19, 2016 - 10:50pm
Scandals like the Volkswagen emissions debacle put stress on customers, shareholders, and staff, but for the wrong reasons. Most organizations caught in similar scenarios panic about financial standing and professional reputation, and therefore it’s unsurprising to find that VW is far from being the only company caught cheating numbers in emissions trading schemes.
Their prioritization of profit versus protection is possible due to the lack of monitoring: the only agency checking up on the numbers is the Environmental Protection Agency. And like we see in the VW cover up, organizations and bodies of government lie on their environmental resume to set themselves ahead in the form of reduced taxation. There is an emphasis on individual success (i.e. corporate success) over environmental advocacy.
The problem with monitoring emissions is that it relies on self-reporting. Examples like China, who mine most of their own resources, present problems where consumption of fossil fuels can usually indicate CO emissions with a certain level of accuracy as they are consuming less fossil fuels and burning equally as harmful materials. The misconception is that if companies are honest about emissions, they are punished with higher taxation. On an international level, these organizations may even be exempt of punishment for their wrongdoing because of the varying rules of governing bodies involved, as noted in the example of the EPA and the EU Environmental Laws going after VW.
The article fails to offer a concrete solution, but instead poses questions about the structures in place to monitoring these issues. This suggests that the answer to the problem is stronger policing, better infrastructure and new forms of education to revert social norms and lead to a re-evaluation of our priorities.
Several European countries implemented education systems and resources under the direction of the EU, and saw GDP increase over 20% while carbon emissions decreased. By rewiring norms and providing incentives versus sanctions, we can hopefully create this trend among organizations in North America and other parts of the world by facilitating more oversight, much like the EU.
The article fails to address ways in which corporate social responsibility can be policed more efficiently, while remaining financially feasible. The power struggle over who will finance (and ultimately, see a bigger return on their investment from) the shift to eco-friendly production and consumption patterns is a huge deterrent, despite examples of cost-splitting by European countries resulting in benefits for all parties (EU reference). The automotive industry relies heavily on non-renewable resources, and with a massive market in every country in the world, has a significant role in creating emissions through the burning of fossil fuels.
There must be a reconditioning to realize that green washing affects entire populations: municipalities, reserves, urban cities, even entire countries. The different levels of legislation must come together to force MNC’s to abide by regulations. Media coverage on this issue downplays the power of the individual: if we focus on the ability of single consumers to make an impact by demanding transparency, accountability and a commitment to helping reduce emissions, hopefully we can make corporations that produce or provide essential goods and services to do the same.
Original Link : http://www.macleans.ca/economy/business/how-climate-cheaters-make-the-re...
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