The problems, consequences and solutions of corporate negligence

Cover art by Frahn Koerner (@frahnkoerner on Instagram)

Corporations are responsible for the majority of the environmental issues we see today, whether it be social inequality, mass deforestation, or toxic chemical spillages.

60 per cent of students living in the UK list climate change as one of the top three priorities for world leaders to tackle in 2021, and more than 70 per cent are afraid of tomorrow rather than hopeful. Evidence points primarily to environmental corporate negligence where corporations are responsible for the majority of the environmental degradation we see today.

The problem: it truly is profit over the planet.

Since 1988, 100 companies have been found responsible for over 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally.  Yet it is only recently that this has caught the public eye. Campaigns run by Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion and other climate activist groups place a spotlight upon greenwashing and the methods corporations use to deceive consumers. When examining the evidence, the case is clear – corporations know they are deceiving the public, yet they do it anyway. 

We are not on track to meet any of the Sustainable Development Goals by the target year 2030. Irresponsible consumption patterns are a problem and policy-makers are aware that corporations should be held accountable. But, despite this apparent awareness and desire for change, there is still no policy in place to try and meet these goals. Whilst governments are making progress with energy transitions, accountability is still not there as they leave corporations to destroy the Earth with no legal repercussions. 

The consequence: corporate negligence

When will it stop? Who will demand accountability? 

Shell is poisoning our air. Nestle is demolishing our forests. Coca-cola is polluting our oceans. Fast fashion is burying our deserts. Without policies to hold corporations accountable, seeing a future with sustainable consumption patterns seems far away. With too much emphasis on profit over the planet, we won’t save the environment in time. 

The solution? Consumer empowerment

So, what can the day-to-day consumer do to help? Use your voice to create a better future. 

  • Boycott those you see to be greenwashing or whose values do not align with your own.
  • Talk to your friends and family to increase awareness. 
  • More importantly, the most effective change is in policymaking. Use your vote wisely, protest for policy change. Sign petitions, write to your MP, write to CEOs. 

It’s difficult to see a way to fix the climate unless corporations are held accountable. Corporate environmental negligence is often overlooked and yet it is a subject that is increasingly becoming inescapable. It is a problem rooted in the clothes that you are wearing, the food you are eating, the house in which you are sleeping, and corporations need to know that we will not stand for it.  

Article by Summer Wyatt-Buchan