Green Economy

Greening The Economy: How Manufacturing, Technology & Individuals Can Help

Greening the economy is not a slogan, it is a matter for all of us, and a vital one that can make a huge difference, not only to save the planet but, more practically, to make more money. This article explores how manufacturing, technology, and individuals can improve both the environment and the economy.

When confronted with the potential impacts and current damages created by climate change, it can be easy to miss or overlook the opportunities that can help protect the planet, the economy, and us.

Although some industries and nations are steadfast in their skepticism of climate change and refuse to change, a vast majority of them are keen on leading an environmental transition and becoming global leaders.

From using the latest technologies to sustainable development and renewable energy as well as small behavioral changes, there are many ways companies and individuals can contribute to the global movement to combat climate change. 

The manufacturing and processing industries are some of the sectors that contribute the most to environmental degradation and climate change. However, as experts have pointed out, they also represent a sector that could stand to benefit a great deal by shifting towards more environmentally-friendly practices.

A CDP study focused on industry projections on the damages and opportunities of major companies in the face of climate change illustrates how a transition could help. The study’s respondents, which included 215 of the world’s largest companies, believed that close to US$1 trillion could be at risk within the next five years due to climate change’s direct impacts.

However, investing in greener industrial methods could yield a much larger return. The study reveals that companies believe that spending US$311 billion to improve manufacturing techniques, its products, and logistics to become more environmentally-friendly could lead to over US$2.1 trillion in opportunities. 

In the Photo: Manufacturing Factory. Photo Credit: Mike Flynn/Pixabay

Green Manufacturing

These projections have helped drive interest in developing sustainable businesses and transitioning existing ones to becoming more green. A transition can be noticed across a range of sectors. Where some companies have found innovative new ways of recycling waste to create clothing, others have swapped to more environmentally-friendly materials or begun supporting offset programs.

The automotive industry has recognized a growing demand for electric vehicles, leading to major brands announcing transitions away from fossil fuel models. Utility companies are also adapting to changing markets, with many looking to invest in renewable energy and decentralizing power grids in order to promote more efficient power generation.

Companies are working towards reducing their environmental impacts as well as their carbon emissions by listening to consumer demands, but also by finding new innovative solutions to help drive sustainable development.

Private entities aren’t the only ones striving to reduce their impacts, with nations also helping facilitate a reduction in carbon footprint and pioneering new, less destructive industrial methods. The issues caused by climate change can be felt worldwide and therefore require a worldwide solution that has been encouraged by international efforts such as the Paris Agreement.

Many signatories of the Paris Agreement are striving to reduce their total carbon emissions through energy transitions, subsidies to support environmentally-friendly projects as well as adjusting their development plans to become more sustainable. 

Countries such as Costa Rica and Iceland are leaders in renewable energy production while providing blueprints for how other nations can capitalize on their natural resources efficiently. Others, like Kenya, are developing their nations through sustainable means, while major polluters India and China who are in the midst of urbanizing have invested billions into reducing their footprints on the fly.

This urge to invest in more environmentally-friendly business practices has led to a noticeable shift in waste and pollution levels – yet a lot more needs to be done. Current projects have illustrated the potential behind ‘greening’ the economy and promoting sustainable development globally but have also shown how companies, cities and even individuals themselves can lead the charge on environmental conservation.

As a result of this emerging sustainability market, innovation has been key to the development of a range of new technologies set to not only mitigate climate change but also improve our ways of life and our health. 

Technology

In the Photo: Technology Gadgets, Photo Credit: Fancycrave1/Pixabay

New Technologies 

Technology has played a major role in the fight to curb carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change. In spite of being the first nations to be severely impacted by climate change, small island nations are using their longstanding resilience to lead the way in new technologies.

From smart homes capable of identifying and changing to cheaper energy sources to micro-grids that run on only local renewable energy as well as sustainable farming methods that reduce land degradation and increase yields – new technologies are taking off on islands around the world.

However, they aren’t the only ones about to take flight, the transport sector is responsible for a large portion of global carbon emissions, and they are turning to technology to help solve the problem.

Electric airplanes are taking their first steps through testing as aviation companies seek to transition to more sustainable aircraft fleets by 2030, joining the automotive industry in developing new transportation mediums.

Tech companies have also looked to capitalize on sustainable development, with some seeking to combine blockchain and renewable energy into a way to revolutionize the energy markets. By using the blockchain platform to host real-time energy prices and sources, it gives consumers more flexibility to choose how and where they spend their money.

In the same vein, large-scale energy storage for renewable energy has been driving innovation in the energy sector by reducing the intermittency of renewables and offering tangible solutions to replace fossil fuel-based power generation. 

New technologies are driving innovation and reducing carbon emissions as well as showing the huge amount of potential a transition towards more environmentally-friendly standards may have on the planet, but also the economy.

These new technologies are giving companies and governments an opportunity to replace damaging aspects of our economy by more sustainable ones – and in some cases, improving it at the same time.

As these options become more ubiquitous across the industrial and governmental sectors, opportunities for individuals to improve their own lives will become a lot easier to come by and implement. 

sustainability

In the Photo: Solar Panels, Photo Credit: 272447/Pixabay

Personal Footprint 

While the general public has made vocal their desire for more change to be made by governments and companies alike, a large proportion of people have also expressed interest in learning how to live more sustainably.

While concerted large-scale efforts are sure to have a much larger impact, it is important to not discount the power that individuals have in being able to shape not just market demand, but also their own personal life.

From taking small steps such as minimizing plastic consumption to altering transportation habits or diet, there are many opportunities available for anyone to help reduce their own personal carbon footprint at any budget. 

One of the areas where individuals may have the most power in affecting their carbon footprint is household energy usage. By installing solar panels or researching utility companies in order to use one that aligns more with one’s beliefs, this can help promote renewable energy while leading to an immediate carbon footprint reduction.

This type of behavior is also what is driving the aforementioned development of technology set to make energy more transparent while giving smart homes the ability to change their power source easily and efficiently. Where changing electricity options may not be a possibility, transportation habits can also be adapted.

Simple steps such as walking or taking a bike for small trips instead of a car will reduce emissions while encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Investing in an electric vehicle can help with retaining mobility without having a negative impact on the environment. Using public transport or carpooling where possible and using trains instead of flights can also have a lasting impact.

On top of this,  supporting businesses and companies that are making efforts to be more environmentally-friendly can also help promote more sustainable development and encourage more people to transition towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

If more and more individuals are ready to not just learn about sustainability, but also live and promote it, then major strides will be taken across society that encompasses not just certain communities, but also the businesses and governments that serve them.

The strength of consumer power and demand are often underappreciated and can help dictate the future of brands and economic development. This is evident in the continued popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles as their benefits and efficiency become more apparent, and as aforementioned, this has led automotive companies to shift towards producing more of these types of vehicles.

Aided by government incentives and continued development within the electric vehicle industry, this has, in turn, enabled more individuals to continue the trend. 

Photo Credit: Markus Spiske/Unsplash

Future-Proofing

Amidst coverage of the issues that the planet is facing as a result of climate change, it can be easy to lose track of the opportunities and developments that are being created as a result of a transition towards a more sustainable way of life.

The debate surrounding the environment has long been described as one pitting science versus the economy, yet that could be farther than the truth. Innovation and technology are illustrating how science can improve the efficiency of the economy and reduce our impact on the environment at the same time.

Over sixty years of debates over the nature of climate change, its impacts, and mitigation solutions have yielded little to no results as vested interests and skeptics have stalled any progress. Now that individuals, companies, and governments are becoming more aware of their impacts and the relatively easy solutions to fix them, there has been a desire to embrace sustainable development.

The current transition is being championed by grassroots communities and a bottom-up business approach that is a lot quicker to enact than the sometimes convoluted and slow top-down governmental motions.

Environmental health is integral to our own and ignoring the effects of climate change is short-sighted and dangerous. While there still remains a lot to be done on the global stage to combat environmental degradation, a vast amount of companies and individuals are working towards safeguarding the future of the coming generations. Help promote positive change by demanding more action and supporting those who are pushing through with it. We have the power to choose the future we want.

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About the Author /

Vincent Diringer is an avid writer who has worked on several environmental education programs and conservation efforts in the Asia-Pacific region. He is currently undertaking a Masters in Science (Biodiversity & Sustainability) at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

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