We spend a lot of time heaping praise on companies that have greened their business practices. But the truth is that the world’s corporations have a long way to go according to an unpublished UN report uncovered by the UK Guardian. The report, conducted by London consulting firm Trucost, claims that the activities of the world’s 3,000 biggest public companies are responsible for a staggering $2.2 trillion in environmental damage each year. The damage stems mainly from greenhouse gas release, local air pollution, and water and fishery pollution.
More details will emerge when the report is released this summer, but power companies, food and drink companies, aluminum producers, and clothing companies are likely to end up as the biggest offenders. The actual cost of environmental damage is probably even higher than $2.2 trillion when long-term effects like toxic waste are taken into account.
The situation isn’t entirely hopeless–corporations just need to be made accountable for environmental damage. A second UN study set to be released later this year will recommend that companies should be made financially responsible for their messes. Among the probable recommendations: abolition of subsidies to polluting industries, increased regulations, and higher taxes for guilty corporations. What do you think–how should companies be asked to pay for their pollution?