Corporations Should Take More Responsibility For Climate Change


Josie Krupens, Opinions Editor


   Climate change remains a pressing issue for not only all of humanity, but the entire world. According to Harvard Political Review, “At the current rate of global greenhouse gas emissions, climate change could displace two billion people due to rising ocean levels, cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars, and cause upwards of 250,000 additional deaths per year — all before 2100” ( If something is not done about climate change, the repercussions will be dire. However, it seems that the responsibility of fixing the world is resting more heavily on the shoulders of individuals; reduce your carbon footprint to save the world, right? Well, in reality, people put too much emphasis on individual action when corporations are causing much more irreparable damage to the cause. When it comes to stopping climate change, people should be putting less pressure on individuals, and more on the corporations that contribute much more to climate change.

   A disproportionate amount of responsibility is placed on individuals to “single-handedly stop climate change.” According to the Highlander, “In order to address climate change, the public conversation has shifted the responsibility onto the individual. Individuals are asked to take public transport, purchase electric vehicles, eat less meat, adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet, and a plethora of more demands.” Yet, while people fret over their carbon footprint, the fossil fuel industry continues to ravage the Earth ( If the blame is put on someone else, it’s easier for companies to shirk the responsibility and not do anything to help the environment, even if they may have been the ones who heavily contributed to the issue in the first place. Corporations can’t be allowed to do this; they need to take responsibility for what they’ve done. And they’ve done a lot.

   Corporations do much more damage than individuals when it comes to climate change. According to the BBC, “A major report released in 2017 attributed 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions over the previous two decades to just 100 fossil fuel producers” ( This number is alarming, and it’s clear that “reducing your carbon footprint” will do little against the corporate dominance over emissions, at least as long as they refuse to change. According to the Guardian, “A paper published in Nature shows that we have little chance of preventing more than 1.5C of global heating unless existing fossil fuel infrastructure is retired. Instead the industry intends to accelerate production, spending nearly 5 trillion dollars in the next 10 years on developing new reserves” ( The power, and obligation, to make an impact against climate change rests in the hands of corporations, much more than individuals.

   Not only do corporations contribute heavily to greenhouse gas emissions, they also lobby relentlessly against government regulations and create doubt surrounding climate change. According to the Guardian, “They funded think tanks and paid retired scientists and fake grassroots organisations to pour doubt and scorn on climate science. They sponsored politicians, particularly in the US Congress, to block international attempts to curtail greenhouse gas emissions” ( Corporations hold incredible amounts of power over politicians, and they use it to further their own agendas, even if that means contributing to the destruction of the Earth. They don’t care about the repercussions. According to the Harvard Political Review, “This sustained climate denialism by the fossil fuel industry in the United States might explain why nearly 10 percent fewer Americans see climate change as a major threat to their country relative to the international median” ( The actions of corporations against climate change solutions are serious infractions against all living things, and it further illustrates how much more they contribute to climate change. They cannot be allowed to brush their own effects aside.

   Individual contributions to climate change pale in comparison to the 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions that the top 100 fossil fuel producers were responsible for. The Harvard Political Review argued that, despite the idea that individuals are responsible for stopping climate change, “…average American households produce only 8.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total of over 33 billion tons globally” ( Not only is this a small fraction of total emissions, but it is far from enough to slow the course of climate change without corporate action. Individuals cannot be expected to magically stop climate change without help from far more powerful entities.

   The blame shouldn’t be placed so heavily on individuals, because some people simply can’t afford to change their lifestyle. According to the BBC, not everyone is in a position in their lives to take a big stand against climate change: they just don’t have the means or power to help. “If you can only afford a home in an edge-of-town housing estate without access to public transport, is it really your fault for becoming dependent on a car?” Corporations, on the other hand, hold immense power and influence ( Individuals should not immediately be made to feel guilty over not doing more to stop climate change, when corporations have more ability to make drastic, life-altering change for the betterment of the Earth’s future.

   This isn’t to say that individuals can’t do anything to help combat climate change. Individual action still matters, from riding the bus, to staging a protest. However, it’s clear that responsibility rests disproportionately on individual people, making people feel guilty for their choices at every turn while corporations are the major contributors to the problem. Senior Abby Cosgrove said, “It’s still good for people to do what they can to help individually, but corporations still aren’t doing their part.” It’s unfair that individuals are told to pull the immense weight that corporations created and still refuse to help with.

   Something needs to be done about climate change. By 2030, it will become irreversible, and nine years is not a lot of time ( So much hangs in the balance, and yet the main contributors, fossil fuel companies, are pushing the blame onto the individual, who is expected to do his or her  part or let the world die out. Corporations should take responsibility for the harm that they’ve caused. Rather than leaving responsibility in the hands of the individual, there should be a combination of individual and corporate action.