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Yes, Climate Change is Happening, But It’s Really Up to Corporations to Change Their Habits

We’ve all heard about the climate crisis that we are currently facing in the world. The facts are that human activity is resulting in climate change and the gradual warming of the earth. Current discussions surrounding climate change put pressure on the middle ground consumer for their carbon footprint. However, the emphasis should be placed on who is really responsible for irreversible climate changes, corporations and fossil fuel companies. 

The fact of the matter is that according to BBC, 100 companies have been responsible for 71% of greenhouse gas emissions since 1998. Fossil fuel use is the primary cause of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, amassing 76% of global greenhouse gas emissions according to the EPA. In a breakdown of greenhouse gas emissions by individual gas type, the EPA reports that 65% of carbon dioxide emissions come from fossil fuel and industrial processes, while the remaining 11% comes from forestry and other land uses. The remaining greenhouse gas emissions are 16% methane, 6% nitrous oxide and 2% fluorinated gasses, or F-gasses. 

person holding a sign that says "planet over profit"
Photo by Markus Spiske from Unsplash

So, why is it that when climate change is broken down in mainstream conversations, instead of blaming the industrial processes and cooperations, we instead talk about the use of cars as a main polluter? The answer lies in the same set of tactics that is used to shift the blame to consumers instead of the main culprits of climate change: fossil fuel companies and corporations. 

What is important to take away from this discussion is that individual action is not irrelevant to reversing the effects of climate change. According to BBC, a four-person family emits more greenhouse gases due to their meat consumption than they would from driving two cars. Specifically, the New York Times reports that red meat and beef emit around four to eight times more emissions than their pork, egg and chicken counterparts emit. Additionally, plant-based proteins, such as soy and beans, create even less emissions than any protein from animals. 

plant based, white and black wooden blocks
Photo by Fuzzy Rescue / Pexels

It is also important to discuss that the ability to eat entirely plant-based is elitist in nature. In fact, it is important to discuss that much of the conversation surrounding sustainability is elitist. Accessibility to the tools needed to live a sustainable lifestyle is not readily available to all and does not account for everyone. It is also important to know that dedication to a more sustainable lifestyle does not have to be an all-or-nothing process. Individuals who can only commit to eating half the amount of red meat or meat they were previously consuming is already better than none at all. This is contrary to what can often be heard in conversations revolving around plant-based lifestyle.  

there is no planet b
Photo by Li-An Lim from Unsplash

While these individual actions can be taken, it is still imperative to remember that the majority of emissions come from fossil fuel corporations, not individual carbon footprints. Those 100 companies that feed into the 71% percent of greenhouse gas emissions should be held more accountable in the conversation of reversing climate change. Instead of guilt and pressure being put on the consumer, more pressure needs to be placed on these fossil fuel companies because people with the highest incomes use more energy and produce a far greater carbon footprint than their counterparts. Deconstructing the elitism in both sustainability and centralizing the conversation around who is really responsible for the brunt of climate change is imperative to shift the conversation forward and create a more even playing field to reverse climate change. 

Allie is a sophomore Public Relations major with a minor in Drama. Her list of current obsessions includes, but is certainly not limited to; coffee, fashion, pet pictures, and Phoebe Bridgers' entire discography. When she is not singing or playing guitar there is a good chance she can be found at the thrift store or at Trader Joes. Follow her on instagram to see what she is up to outside of Her Campus Hofstra! @alliemillette
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