We have the opportunity to bend the curve of consumption toward a sustainable future.
The nation has failed to put the marketplace on track to avoid catastrophic climate change, which requires limiting warming to 1.5°C and attaining carbon neutrality by 2050—a failure that will cost our country catastrophic loss of human life and as much as $500 billion a year by the middle of the century. Transportation is the leading cause of climate pollution and a top contributor of other air pollutants that result in nearly 100,000 U.S. deaths per year. Companies have few incentives to build for durability or factor in the full environmental cost of production, distribution, use, and disposal, and the online marketplace has amplified these harms. A lack of government leadership on a national and global scale, resulting in part from strong corporate power, is inhibiting political solutions.
The American public now recognizes the real threat of climate change, and it’s the top concern for millennials and Gen Zers. However, consumers struggle to evaluate the sustainability of products and services and the total cost of ownership, even as they face higher household costs (for food, home insurance, healthcare, and utilities). Low-income families and communities of color are disproportionately affected by extreme weather events, exposure to air pollutants, and a lack of cost-effective sustainable choices. Not surprisingly, Latinos and African Americans have a stronger-than-average interest in addressing climate change.
CR will build the partnerships needed to scope, define, and advance a strategy that could focus on any number of issues, from carbon emissions to air and water quality to plastics and other toxic waste. The strategy will leverage CR’s traditional strengths while exploring opportunities to develop new products and services that provide benefits to members while driving impact. We will prioritize markets and industries where durability and total cost of ownership have a nexus with lower emissions, lower waste, and lower cost.
While spurring others to aim higher, we must also measure and reduce our own carbon footprint. Our passionate staff has already identified measures to reduce plastic and other waste in our facilities, and we have invested heavily in our infrastructure and our cultural capacity for working remotely to reduce commuting and travel. This is the beginning of our own sustainability journey.
We have a track record of promoting energy and fuel efficiency through ratings and policy, and we are committed to bringing the full power of CR to address climate change and environmental issues more broadly. We have the opportunity to bend the curve of consumption toward a sustainable future and to build a bridge to the young and diverse members who will shape consumer issues in the next half-century.
How will we know if we succeeded?
- Strong minimum standards prevent and reduce environmental and consumer harms.
- Consumers reduce emissions and waste by purchasing more sustainable products and services, and taking other actions to reduce individual footprints.