Why small businesses can’t ignore climate change anymore

climate change

Climate change is at a tipping point. Action is needed now to prevent the Earth’s atmosphere from hitting the point of no return.

According to NASA, the Earth’s temperature has risen by 2°C in the last 140 years, and sea levels are set to rise more than 60 centimetres in the next 80 years — an increase so significant Indonesia has been forced to consider changing its capital city.

Australia’s major political parties, slowly prompted by more than a decade of community outrage, are reluctantly starting to develop actionable climate-change policies.

Everyday citizens are taking action, kids are taking action, governments are taking action, and even big business is taking action. Just yesterday, Qantas boss Alan Joyce spruiked the business case for sustainability, noting younger generations “believe that companies who take a social conscience and positive climate view are companies they want to work for and buy from”.

It’s time for small business to take action too.

Australia has 2.2 million small businesses, which employ nearly 44% of the private workforce. Small business has the potential to determine policy, make or break political leaderships, and single-handedly drive wage growth, R&D spend, and other key drivers of a prosperous economy.

SmartCompany believes small businesses and the people who run them also have the power to drive real change on climate action. Though it might be something you’re unfamiliar with or perhaps aren’t completely sold on, it’s real, and it needs your attention.

The changes you make don’t need to be big ones, but they should be. Sure, turn down the heat, but what are your suppliers doing? What’s their carbon footprint? If they’re not on board, then maybe it’s time for some frank discussions about your relationship.

Some businesses are still taking the easy way out, but that’s no longer an option.

Ignoring this issue, or palming it off as ‘Greeny leftie bullshit’, is closed-minded and irresponsible. This is a sector which prides itself on innovation, growth and profits — and on not taking it easy if it makes things more difficult later.

Dismissing climate change flies in the face of everything small business stands for.

Being ignorant to the threat of climate change won’t do you any favours. In the long run, you’ll just spend more money, have fewer customers, and lose out on the best available job applicants.

Being on the wrong side of history won’t make you rich.

As part of our spotlight on climate change, SmartCompany and StartupSmart sought out business owners and startup founders taking action, who are running sustainable businesses, helping others do so, or developing new climate-friendly technologies.

It’s not the first time we’ve showcased these businesses, and it certainly won’t be the last. So if your business is making significant investment in new tech or a business model that combats climate change, let us know. We’d love to put you on our front page.

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