The ethics of climate change





40 minutes


Learning Path

This course will explain how international organisations have an impact on climate change, as well as explaining what you can do to help them.

We all know and have heard that climate change is bad and we should all do our best to prevent its consequences. Despite this, climate change has remained an issue for generations and at this rate could potentially lead to a disaster. So why is this the case? Why are some of us not doing our part to save the climate? Well, climate change itself can be considered to be a complex ethical problem. Some can afford to purchase more sustainable options in the supermarket whereas some cannot.

Companies also play a large role in climate change. For example, if not done carefully, the manufacturing of certain products can have serious impacts on the climate. One common example that has been resolved was the manufacturing of fridges. In the past, fridges contained chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were used as the cooling agent but this chemical proved to be harmful to the Ozone layer surrounding our earth. If this chemical were to continue to damage the Ozone layer it would have caused devastating effects on our earth (namely global warming.) Thankfully, the concern was raised in the 1980s and since then CFCs have not been used in fridges. This may have been a simple solution however some issues related to companies which have a negative effect on climate change is hard to deal with given that there are some sacrifices have to be made – whether it be in their profits or ease.

Given that us individuals and large companies are both living on this earth – this raises the question, who is actually responsible for the climate change? Some assume that it is the large companies responsibility as they are obviously larger contributors to climate change than the individual. Whereas, some argue that if all individuals act together we could make a great enough difference.

According to theconversation, “100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions since 1988.” On the surface, this is a considerable percentage of emission rate and proves that large corporations do indeed hold a great impact on the climate. However, it is important to consider that these statistics consider large fossil fuel-related companies such as ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron and it is well known that fossil fuels have a large impact on the climate (as they release mass amounts of greenhouse gasses [link to page]). Nevertheless, it is needless to say that companies do hold a larger impact than individuals combined.

Although it can be said that companies are most likely the ones who have to work more in order to be more sustainable, it is more a collaborative effort between the individuals and the companies in order to be more sustainable. Companies could provide more sustainable means of eating, clothing, and shopping for individuals to be more sustainable. Thus, if we support and purchase from sustainable companies, the company itself can be sustainable as well as the individual for supporting the cause. Thus ultimately, it is up to us, the individuals to support sustainable companies in order to try and reduce climate change.

There are multiple corporations which are making an effort to reduce their negative impacts on the climate by reducing their greenhouse emissions. For example, LEGO has produced more sustainable bricks which are made of sugarcane and are aiming to have all of their products to be sustainable by 2030. Additionally, the medical device company, Johnsons and Johnsons, have made 100% of their packaging recyclable and are 31% of their energy is from sustainable sources (according to lovemoney).

In general, some things that corporations could do to include: changing the material or supply of which are used in the manufacturing process of certain products to more sustainable sources. Another example could be using more sustainable energy sources to power their headquarters or other working places. Or, they could provide more sustainable means of transport or food in their working spaces too.

Most companies are quite open on their ways in which they are combatting climate change so if you want to support those companies you can quickly search up their efforts on google.

As well as purchasing from sustainable companies, there are many other things an individual could do in order to combat climate change. Primarily, spreading awareness. This can easily be done by just posting and sharing educational content on social media. As well as this it is possible to attend organised marches and strikes, such as the global climate strikes and donate to approved non-profit organisations such as the Environmental Defence Fund and Actions such as these essentially pressure the government for action regarding the pressing issue of climate change – which can ultimately cause change for companies as well. If we all do this, on top of the little things we can do to help at home (e.g. use renewable energy, reducing waste), together we can significantly help reduce the impact of climate change.

Welcome to your Ethics

What would happen if the Ozone layer were to be destroyed?
What percentage of global emissions was due to companies in 1988?
What can companies do to reduce climate change nowadays?
How do you raise awareness for climate change?


Login to access full footprint analysis and save your results.