Mon. May 16th, 2022

Photo credits: Evan Brooks

It’s a falsehood to say there can be no substantial economic growth when taking decisive action to protect the environment. Economies around the world thrive off innovation, and should the world continue to innovate and take steps to protect the environment, the economy will follow suit with long-term growth. Should the world refuse to step up and take significant actions to protect the environment, there will not be much use for money anyway. In other words, money spent on the protection of the environment now is an investment with long-term dividends. Should action not take place now, then money will be spent on mitigation of a world turned against us, with no return on investment.

This fact is highlighted in an article written by Steve Cohen and published by the Columbia Climate School. Within the article, it is stated that, “environmental protection itself contributes to economic growth. Somebody makes and sells the air pollution control technologies we put on power plants and motor vehicles. Somebody builds the sewage and water treatment facilities.” Protection measures stimulate the economy and bring about new jobs — to not only replace the jobs lost from moving away from fossil fuels, but to actually add more jobs than was ever previously possible from non-renewable plants, factories and mines.

Another misconception is that continued economic growth is based on the world’s continued use of non-renewable sources of energy. The reality of our world shows “the climate problem is not caused by economic growth, but by the absence of effective public policy designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” To be clear, “there is nothing incompatible with capitalism and environmental protection as long as rules are in place that control the environmental impacts of the products and services we make and use.” Everyone has to follow the set laws, which are put in place to ensure the well-being of the population. Environmental protection laws and regulations would essentially do the same thing. When those regulations and “rules”’ are in place, “a concern for environmental sustainability can and will permeate everyday decision-making in the private, nonprofit and governmental organizations we all benefit from.” It is easier to act and do the work that needs to be done now before everything piles up and the sacrifices that need to be made become unthinkable.

According to an article written by Cristiana Pasca Palmer, and published by the World Economic Forum, there are “three pathways” that could lead to a more environmentally-cognizant world. First is “developing more holistic indicators that better account for economic growth along with broader metrics of human and environmental well-being.” By linking the economy more closely with the well-being of humans and the environment, better decisions can be made that strive to aid both. Second is “incentivizing all actors in the economy to change current innovation pathways and mainstream the necessary environmental transitions for their core business models.” Through making it easier to be environmentally friendly, as well as more cost-effective, companies will see environmental protection measures as the obvious choice for their business. Third would be having “wise leadership that can both chart a new vision for living in harmony with nature and inspire shared commitment in achieving it.” In the end, we all need to work together regarding the global economy, but more so when dealing with the climate of the planet we call home.

Right now, the world is in a transition period from coal to natural gas, and then it will go from natural gas to renewables in the future. By making it easier for each of those transitions to occur, the world could ensure a better environmental and economic future for all.

Evan Brooks is a fourth-year Business Management major with minors in Economics and Civic & Professional Leadership.

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