On my way into the office the other day, I was asked a simple question that really got me thinking: what can businesses do to mitigate climate change?
As I thought it over, I realized the answer boiled down to one word that isn’t used nearly enough when discussing solutions to the climate crisis: respect.
Respecting Each Other
As human beings sharing this planet, if we simply had more respect for one another, I believe we would make significant progress in addressing the climate change dilemma.
Respect means truly listening to differing perspectives, being willing to compromise, and finding common ground. By now, we’re all aware of the fact that too often, the climate change debate gets polarized when really, we should be coming together to solve a problem.
As business leaders and citizens, it’s our duty to respect the views of others—even when we disagree. That being said, we must also respect future generations and the planet we will leave behind for them by respecting science and ongoing evidence of the very real and global threats of climate change.
If we do this, I’m certain businesses and individuals alike will be more likely to make the necessary behavioral and policy changes that will ultimately reduce emissions and promote lasting sustainability.
Respecting the Earth & Its Natural Resources
At its core, combatting climate change is about respecting the planet and its natural resources it provides—because Earth is our only hope, at least for now.
For too long, humanity has treated the planet and its delicate and balanced ecological systems as resources to be exploited, with little regard for environmental health. Frankly, we’ve had so much hubris that we have failed to respect Earth’s natural limits and the balance of life itself.
Reversing climate change begins with businesses and individuals respecting the planet’s resources. Reducing consumption, reusing and recycling, and shifting to clean, renewable energy that preserves our natural environments, for example.
Most of all, it means respecting that our world has limits, tipping points, and boundaries that we can’t continue exceeding if life is to continue flourishing for generations to come.
Respecting Our Roles in Building a Sustainable Future
Addressing a challenge as massive as climate change really comes down to the willingness of people and businesses to respect our unique roles in creating a sustainable future. The choices we make each day in how we work, produce goods, commute, and consume energy impact sustainability on a global scale.
Respect in this sense means taking responsibility for our actions and past contributions, rather than passing blame. It also means having enough humility to change behaviors, policies, and practices even when it may be inconvenient to prioritize the environment.
When businesses and individuals come together with a true sense of duty, responsibility, and respect, real progress is possible.
The Climate Crisis Demands Respectful Action
If we simply make respect the foundation—respect for others’ views, respect for future generations, respect for the planet’s ecological limits, and respect for our own individual roles, living sustainably and making climate action a priority become much more achievable.
It’s a matter of respect. The question is, are we willing to step up and assume our role? Furthermore, can we inspire the people around us to do the same—our friends, coworkers, and family members? How about our business or organization’s leadership? The future of reversing climate change and climate change mitigation is in our hands and we owe it to the planet to take action now.
About Anthony Zolezzi
Dalrada Executive Vice Chairman
A leading voice on sustainability, Anthony Zolezzi has spent more than 30 years driving global health and environmental initiatives, from organic agriculture to large-scale recycling. His passion stems from forming partnerships with major retailers to expand eco-conscious offerings, serving on various nonprofit boards, and directly advising King Charles III on his climate works.