Why Businesses Can’t View this as a Choice Anymore
Did you know that according to The United Nations Statistics Division, the levels of carbon dioxide and methane have increased by 40% and 150% respectively in the last 100 years?
When you really think about it, it should come as no surprise given the steady increase in the demand for fossil fuels, unenforced regulations or governance and lastly, the increasing rates of competition and globalization.
This brings us to why reducing the environmental footprint has returned to the spotlight – and rightfully so. With the environmental footprint being a very broad topic and with the celebration of Earth Day yesterday, it might be time to revisit the issue of air pollution.
Some Interesting Facts about Air Pollution
Let’s start by taking a look at some interesting facts:
- From an industry perspective, the top offenders are energy (80%), agriculture (14%), industrial processes (4%), and waste (~3%).
- From a geographic region standpoint, the regions with the highest levels of emissions are Asia Pac in the top place with North America ranking as #2, followed by Europe.
- It is estimated that over 7 million people die every year as a result of air pollution. Of these:
- 4.2 million deaths are attributed to exposure to outdoor air pollution.
- 3.8 million deaths are a result of exposure to fuels and old stoves/equipment.
These numbers only reinforce the importance of addressing this issue, and is also the perfect segue to delving into the solutions, at least at a high level.
Evolution vs. Revolution | Short-Term and Long-Term Solutions
In order to effectively address the problem in its entirety, both short-term and long-term measures need to be taken. Below are a few key examples.
Short-term measures at an organizational level include:
- Changes to business processes
- Intensifying compliance enforcement
- Replacing old technology with cleaner options
- Championing corporate social responsibility initiatives (CSR) and forming internal environmental taskforces
Long-term measures at the governmental and international organizational levels include:
- Updating policies and regulations
- Developing international coalitions and Initiatives, such as:
- UN Climate Action Summit
- The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
- The Climate and Clean Air Coalition
The Types of Industries that Are Making a Difference
At the organizational level, there are select types of companies that are doing their part to help lessen the harmful impacts to air quality. Some examples of these include:
- Environmental Software Companies:
- These companies offer software solutions aimed at helping their customers demonstrate compliance, enhance their health and safety programs and secure the safety of their employees.
- Clean Tech Companies:
- These companies offer technology-based products that, according to Wikipedia, “reduce negative environmental impacts through significant energy efficiency improvements and the sustainable use of resources.”
Companies That Have Launched Extensive Eco-Focused Initiatives
There are some widely recognized companies that have launched successful environmentally- focused initiatives. Let’s take a look at a few below:
- Siemens is working towards its objective of becoming 100% carbon neutral by introducing low-emission vehicles and e-mobility concepts, leveraging distributed energy systems at its factories and office buildings, and increasing the use of renewable energy.
- To fulfill their mission of becoming more eco-friendly, Ricola created the innovation-focused Ricolab which, by integrating the use of herbs with robust technology has helped them develop sustainable business practices.
- With the intention of offsetting their carbon footprint, Google bought significant amounts of renewable energy from wind and solar farms to match the use of non-renewable forms of energy.
Moving in the Right Direction
There you have it – trends in reducing the impact of air pollution in a nutshell. Despite there being some notable success stories, it’s clear that we still have a long way to go. But what’s most important is we are on the right track.