How Profit Will Save the Planet

BUSINESS icon Giles Cadman December 1, 2022

It's a fact: profit will save the planet. We can't repair the damage caused industrialisation without money. Money comes from profit.

But profit doesn't need to be fed into sustainable projects with no return. Sustainable projects can produce profit, which can then be spent on future projects.

This is a philosophy that I, and many other ecopreneurs, have held for decades. But now, thanks to the 2016 Paris Agreement, it applies to everyone.

Why Should Businesses Be Sustainable?

The future of profit is intrinsically linked with sustainability. This fact was set in stone by 192 countries in 2016.

The Agreement states that all participating countries must be net-zero by 2050. In response to this, each country created their own long-term strategies; after all, you cannot become net zero overnight.

So, if your business is not working towards being net zero, or net zero already, it is probably going to cost your business in the future.

Besides this practical aspect, there is the arguably more important moral aspect.

If you are making a profit from running your business, and by running your business you are damaging the planet, you need to pay to repair it. Businesses should own up to any damage they are causing and work to resolve it.

Despite reversing global warming being at the forefront of most countries long-term policies, there still aren't enough rules about what you can and can't do. So, I encourage businesses to develop their own rules surrounding sustainability.

How Can Businesses Be Sustainable?

Sustainability is based on numbers and facts. A business can either be unsustainable (meaning they have a positive carbon footprint) or sustainable (meaning they have a neutral or negative carbon footprint).

So, before attempting to make your business more sustainable, it is essential to do a carbon footprint calculation to work out your current position.

Carbon Footprint Calculation

Every company that generates greenhouse gases has a carbon footprint. On paper, a carbon footprint is easy to work out: Emissions "“ carbon offset = carbon footprint.

However, in practice it is a very difficult calculation to manage. Companies need to consider their direct and indirect emissions. Direct emissions are things like energy used in offices and fuel used to transport goods. Indirect emissions include everything related to the supply chain, and the emissions caused by commuters.

Lowering a Businesses Carbon Footprint

There are two ways for a business to lower their carbon footprint: improve what they can and offset what they can't.

When I say improvements, I am referring to the practical steps a business can take to lower their carbon footprint, without detrimentally affecting their bottom line. For example, businesses should always buy raw materials by balancing their price and carbon footprint.

Eventually businesses will be forced to do this because cheap options will become more expensive because of increased taxes and carbon offset prices.

However, it is not all negative. If you can propel your company ahead of the curve, you can actually profit from the fight against global warming. Companies who become carbon negative, meaning they remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they produce, will be able to sell carbon credits to companies who cannot reach a carbon neutral status by themselves.

How Businesses Can Make a Profit While Saving the Planet

It may sound contradictory to say that you can make a profit while saving the planet. But we only need to look to the richest person in the world to realise that it is completely possible.

Elon Musk, the richest person in the world, with a net worth of over $250 billion, made his fortune developing the world's first commercially available electric car. He is rich because of the world's changing views on sustainability, not despite them.

And there are many ways other companies can use this to their advantage. People buy sustainability; they will spend more money on things to feel good about their purchases. There is a growing conscious mind and awareness of the importance of buying and living sustainably.

Making profit shouldn't cost the earth; it should save it.