Sustainability – The Costs and Benefits

The costs of sustainability are not immediately apparent to us because of the endogenous
nature of its answer; it very much depends on the actions and decisions we take right now
and in the future.
Having said that, some of the costs are pretty obvious. For instance, switching to renewable
energy sources requires much investment in new infrastructure and divestment in costly
infrastructure which depends on fossil fuels such as coal power generators. However, the
consequences for not changing are oftentimes more costly and even dangerous.

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Power stations which rely on coal are highly polluting and nuclear power stations can cause
major disruptions to human life in the event of any accident, as can be shown by Chernobyl
and the Fukushima power plants. The devastation they caused could be easily seen around
the world for a long time to come.
Increasingly, climate change has also brought about unpredictable changes to weather
patterns and phenomena such as droughts and wildfires in Australia. Areas in the Caribbean,
Sub-Saharan African and North America also experience extreme and unpredictable weather
much more frequently from storms, wildfires, droughts and floods.
This frequent occurrence of extreme weather phenomenon could be directly attributed to
global warming. Climate change is not only causing extreme environmental damage, but
having an impact on health and economic implications too. Researchers have shown that
there is a link between climate change and mass outbreaks of the Zika, Ebola viruses and
possibly coronavirus as well.
With the global markets so intertwined nowadays, these problems can spiral quickly out of
control and cause a pandemic, adversely affecting economies, markets, and human welfare

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Fossil fuels, which are integral to human progress but which take millions of years to form
naturally, are being depleted at ever increasing rate today unless we could develop other
viable energy alternatives to sustain the rate of the global economic progress. The natural
environment is changing daily because of human activity.
To introduce significant mindset change, we always have to start with education. We also
have to rally the help of the masses to implement change in all facets of their consumption
behaviour to truly see the needle move on helping the environment. Everybody would have
to pull their weight, from governments and all other stakeholders. Otherwise, the whole thing
would have failed before it even started.
Benefits for the case of sustainability are more obvious.


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Legal and regulatory compliance

Increasingly, more and more laws are passed to improve sustainability. Adopting
sustainability measures pre-emptively means not only getting ahead of your competitors, but
also gives companies a potential first mover advantage. Complying with these laws and
regulations will also often afford these companies many attractive tax breaks or incentives.


Efficiency saves money

Reusing and recycling existing material in creative ways translates to cost savings on money
spent purchasing new stock to create products. Video-conferencing instead of having
employees conduct face-to-face meetings saves the company substantial amounts of money
as well as the Earth.


Green marketing awareness

In today’s market, going green is a badge of honour for the company as it makes customers
feel that the business is caring towards its community and has ethical practices. The majority
of consumers polled agreed they would not mind paying more for products made from
sustainable sources. This rose to more than three quarters for millennial consumers.
Eco-friendly companies also enjoy very good word-of-mouth publicity, and that cannot be
simply bought with advertising dollars.


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