Can we achieve sustainability within a capitalist system?
Achieving sustainability within a capitalistic system will be an uphill task, but I believe that with contribution from all stakeholders and behavioral adaptation from people, it can be achieved. Profits have to be looked more in terms of human capital and environmental gains rather than just looking at the profit statements of the company. The sustainability challenges, I believe are a result of a combination of consumeristic market system and the demand to make more at lower costs. It should not be about ‘shredding away free trade and bringing back the manufacturing jobs’, which I believe would be moving backwards and unrealistic. It should be more about moving forward to work on new and resilient technologies since all the movement of manufacturing plants will do is, move pollution from one place to another rather than be globally beneficial.
Sustainability In the long run will require changes in the public infrastructure, economic planning, corporate regulations, international trade, consumption habits and taxation. But presently, accepting that a change is required and starting on the difficult path of rebuilding is important rather than viewing it as a political agenda to be supported by one party and not by the other. The major stakeholders within the capitalistic system are the corporates, governments and the people.
The corporate regulations, taxation and public infrastructure are some of the activities that the government will be responsible for. From the government point of view, looking at climate change as an issue to be addressed is mandatory and coming up with regulations to control levels of pollution emission from industries. Providing incentives and lowering taxes for green fuel usage and lowering carbon emission from industries would be the sustainable way forward. From the corporate side, the overall profit of the company must be gauged by not only financial statements but also environmental damage and human capital.
The rising consumption level has been a prevalent reason for increasing monetary profits for the corporates who have been on the pursuit to increase profits further by reducing costs of manufacturing. To curb this consumption level, the behavioral aspect of the population to limit usage and understand the impact on the environment becomes important.
Every stakeholder has a part to play to achieve sustainability in the evolved capitalistic system which must be take into consideration factors such as environmental impact and human capital into consideration while gauging profits. This will be the only way the real concerns of sustainability can be addressed and at the same time self-regulation can be attained.