An unpublished study for the United Nations is reporting that an estimated one-third of profits of the worlds largest companies would be commandeered for environmental damage done in the process of running their businesses. For now, companies in this category are not currently held financially accountable for their emissions, but have ultimately contributed to the contamination of rivers, air, soil, and so on. The data has been compiled through a London-based consultancy called Trucost. They believe that the estimated damages near the likes of $2.2 trillion during their study in 2008 and could be considerably higher. The UN-backed Principles for Responsibility Investment initiative is looking into the practices of 3,000 of the largest companies world-wide in terms of their emission levels, output, efficiency, and waste levels.
Much of the concern is over who gets the blame for the damages as this is a very hard number to quantify. Presently, Trucost is evaluating costs of power, clothing, and aluminum industries as these are believed to be the biggest contributers to the emissions of GHG's (Green House Gases), VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds), and water misuse. Though the figures presented do not include social impacts of energy use (appliances or waste). This is a collective action problem on a global scale and policy makers worldwide must find an appropriate tax/retribution that will justifiably hold the largest polluters financially accountable for their actions. Growing concern for environmental damage is reaching critical levels and the argument to abolish government subsidies in order to combat harmful practices in agriculture, energy use, and transportation are getting attention from the public. As stated before these damages are hard to quantify, but it is never to late to take action in fighting global climate change and resource destruction. The entire study will be published by Trucost this summer.