Did you see the new climate change report released by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this week? The information shared was stark and an important reminder that the climate crisis is real, and we all need to do our part to help. Hundreds of top scientists confirmed climate change is clearly human-caused and “unequivocal,” and the report makes more precise and warmer forecasts for the 21st century than it did last time it was issued, in 2013.
The impacts of the climate crisis, from extreme heat to wildfires to intense rainfall and flooding, will only continue to intensify unless we choose another path for our future. Small-business owners are in a position to create real action and can play a significant role in the solution.
Bill Gates in his latest book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, outlines six meaningful ways a small business owner can play a bigger role in combatting the climate crisis.
- Set up an internal carbon tax. Some of the largest companies in the U.S. are now imposing a carbon tax on each of their divisions. An internal carbon tax places a monetary value on greenhouse gas emissions, which businesses can then factor into investment decisions and business operations. The revenue generated is then used to cover green premiums for product development that are made from clean energy.
- Invest in innovation for low-carbon solutions. Many small businesses rarely invest in research and development to innovate a new way of creating a product because they often rely on their supply chain to do that for them. Low-carbon solutions is an area that is becoming increasingly desirable for investors, and small businesses can lead the way by starting with their current products
- Be an early adopter. Arizona has become the electric vehicle maker state and small businesses can begin planning to trade in their corporate fleets and buy lower-carbon materials. By adopting early, innovators will see the demand and know there will be a market ready to buy their products.
- Engage in the policy-making process. There was a time when businesses would stay out of politics to avoid losing customers. But now, the climate crisis requires everyone to get involved, and small businesses cannot be afraid of working with the government any more than the government should be afraid of working with small businesses. Small businesses should be champions of a carbon-free future and help support basic science in communities where they operate.
- Connect with government-funded research. Small-business owners have a valuable perspective and can help guide government-funded projects toward better ideas. Joining industry advisory boards and taking part in your city’s planning exercises are a cost-effective way to inform the government for better research.
- Help early-stage innovators get across the valley of death. As with any entrepreneurial venture, the risks are always high and good ideas will need help to get off the ground. Small businesses can invest their own money, lend workspace to test ideas, and share mentors to guide green entrepreneurs through the stages of growth. When it comes to climate change, any solution is better than none.
News like this can be depressing, but facing reality also brings us closer to new opportunities. As new science is revealed, small-business owners should harness their creative power and commit to be a part of the solution. Save the planet by taking it one step at a time.
Take a moment to explore the Going Green and Going Smart Program to learn how you can transform your small business by joining the #GreenBizAZ movement. This initiative aims to educate small-business owners in sustainable business practices for a cleaner, greener future in Arizona.
EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is a bilingual business educator, economic advisor and contributor for several media outlets. He’s a nonprofit executive who is passionate about education. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University.
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