Since 1965, twenty companies have been responsible for more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions. Other reports suggest that over 70% of emissions are produced by just 100 companies. So, can individuals really make a difference?

On the other hand, many of those companies are producing goods, products, and services that, ultimately, go to consumers. Taking public transport and eating less meat might not be enough to save the planet, but surely individual actions count for something. After all, individuals can also take political action – voting, campaigning, protesting, raising consciousness and shifting public opinion.

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Nikos, who thinks everyone in society – from individuals all the way up to corporations and governments – are all responsible for fighting climate change. Is he right? Or do corporations and governments have a greater responsibility than individuals?

To get a response, we spoke to Dayana, a Road Trip Project traveller. The #RoadTripProject is an initiative which saw a group of young travellers hop in a van for a journey across Europe, meeting locals and exploring a variety of EU-supported projects and activities. This year (the “second season” of the project) the focus was on sustainability.

Considering what she has seen and the people she met, does Dayana think individuals can make a difference? Or is it all about governments, businesses, and the EU taking action?

We also put the same question to Panos, another Road Trip traveller, who saw a different set of sustainable projects on his travels across the continent. What would he say?

Who’s responsible for saving our planet? Governments, businesses or you? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStock – LGreen
Editorially independent content supported by: The Road Trip Project, an initiative of DG REGIO at the European Commission. See our FAQ for more details


86 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Bushra

    people, first of all, because without people’s cooperation, governments’ laws would be ineffective

    • avatar
      Pete

      You can protest and still be active yourself. The one does not exclude the other. I feel it is a dangerous precedent to condemn the idea of protest as something not being able to lead to change (or to call it unproductive). Also, we are not allowed to question things? A basic human tendency? I would really enjoy an elaboration on your part, as your words have me deeply concerned for the fundamental ideas of democracy.

    • avatar
      EU Reform- Proactive

      Hi Pete,

      Everyone has (still) a CHOICE in the EU to use their inalienable RIGHTS (& obligations) to: attend peaceful mass protests, choose political parties, attend church on Sundays, personally scrutinize & criticize the DE/EU, imagine the impossible, watch the 2019 world rugby tournament- endless options! Please feel free to participate- wherever!
      https://right-to-protest.org/debate-protest-rights/why-the-right-to-protest/

      Ours is the difficulty to make good (personal) choices. First of all- to determine our political representatives at National level- not top (EU) down.

      In my response to- (arrogantly named “saving the planet”….???) I chose Denmark, the Danish capital with its “Copenhill” as an extraordinary and innovative solution, designed by a gifted team player & home boy named Bjarke Ingels:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bjarke_Ingels
      http://www.scandinaviastandard.com/important-bjarke-ingels-group-buildings-to-know/

      My personal CHOICE is to refrain & refuse using such “unproductive” and inalienable RIGHT of (peaceful) public mass protests! Thank you! There are many other ways to achieve success- see “Copenhill”!

      Imagine the effort (“man hours”) it took from conceptualization, negotiation, planning, lobbying to get business and government (PPP) agreeing until the finished project was build, paid & handed over- creating something special- for many to use- others to admire.

      In comparison, a mass protest of 1 mio people over 8 hrs= 8mio man hours- spent on “waking” up politicians “democratically”- achieves what? It’s like a puff on a cigarette! Does your product remain or is it a superficial belief of a helluva democratic achievement? What can you do with it? Ski, swim, walk, enjoy & listen to the birds?

      China has no such EU “comparative democracy” craze- but is economically way ahead of the EU/Europe- lifting ~600-700 mio out of poverty over the last 30 years! Even Germany is bowing before China- not long it will be the EU27 & more!
      What did the EU do during the last 30 years? Play & fumble with our “democracy”?

      Now, translate both into money terms; evaluate its long term positive achievement, creating a National asset (Copenhill)- which remains useful for decades- be it for the young, old or a gem environmental solution!

      A different example: the “Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)” spent 316,000 man hours on Brexit. Just another puff on a political agh so democratic “EU cigarette”?

      https://www.investmentweek.co.uk/investment-week/news/3073407/fca-devotes-300-man-hours-brexit

      What tools are used to measure productivity?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man-hour
      https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/05/chart-labour-costs-in-european-union/

      That’s it for today!

  2. avatar
    Jurgen

    Incomplete questioning in order to extract wrong or desired answers and solutions is a not a solution. though, with this in mind environmental issues can only be solved by individuals, a whole lot of them, but probably not in a way you suggest. We need to think further and different, not in function of ourselves, our own species,economic, … . Climate change is real, the reason why is not! Although it is a welcome opportunity for governments and multinationals to save a dying Western economy, to save modern times slavery, to maintain the idea of the endless growth,based on lies or at least assumptions. No, the solution has to come from the individual that is aware an endless growth is an illusion and aware of the fact that the longer it takes to acknowledge this the worse it will get.

  3. avatar
    Manuel

    First we need to save all the human race, that is to rise all humans to a level of decent conditions for living.

    • avatar
      Jurgen

      Now that is really a very naive idea, one that will make sure nothing ever will be done…right.

  4. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    While digesting DE’s above choice of illustration – and some comments, one is reminded how evolution relentlessly works- changing us into “sapiens, sapiens” & beyond- where deeply buried wishes & dreams to solve conflicts with “love”- (as some of our lost ancestors practiced) are still surfacing today!

    So sweet, so pan- so unworkable.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiF0RszZliM

    To follow such suggestion will have even greater consequences- if taken too serious- by those who should be serious!

    Those prescribing “bonobo” love to solve CO2 or any other sapiens problem of today, should rather take a deep breath of O2.

    Everything has an end; our lives, our civilization & our solar system- it’s only a matter how “many” & “who” will last the longest- until the “inevitable”……….!

    Everyone can guess or bang their heads. Its mostly free- should you have a government social health insurance!

  5. avatar
    Donalda

    So for all those who are for depopulation, hey maybe we could euthanise all the old, sick and handicapped…and…well gee, c’mon, why don’t we start with…you and yours ?
    I mean it’s the very least you could do right ? 😂
    Morons…or lemmings I should say, playing right into their hands. Smh

    Climate change has become a shameless religion with no connection whatsoever with science which is BASED on skepticism for crying out loud.

  6. avatar
    Martin

    Why do you think you can (or should) fight a natural phenomenon?

  7. avatar
    Siva

    All three must work together. Find what can achieve his.

  8. avatar
    Gérald

    Are you reallly sure, our planet is in danger ?? I suppose should she be in danger our governements would stop engaging wars, would stop making fly a lot of planes with a cargo of bombs …. and instead of using ten vehicles to move, a lot of them super heavy due to armor, they would use bicycles or busses ….

  9. avatar
    Gaby

    We all are responsible for the health of our planet. Suggest to make a international charter to guide people and businesses to behave in a sustainable, ethical, responsible way both in private and public sectors in order to improve business processes and consumer habits.

    • avatar
      Vanloy

      if there is no more globalism, it is controllable , otherwise, forget it!

    • avatar
      Gaby

      @Vanloy caring for and protecting the planet is a global concern, to be practised all over the globe.

  10. avatar
    Ted

    One more thing we could do ,which never seems to get much if any of a mention is to seriously cut our population down drastically by couples only having one child , and by that i mean one child full stop , not one child for every relationship you have. This alone would cut down eventually the need for just about everything we need / use .

    • avatar
      Donalda

      Ted, hey and maybe we could euthanise all the old, sick and handicapped…and…well gee Ted, c’mon, why don’t we start with…you and yours. Be a sport eh.

    • avatar
      Donalda

      Ted, you complained on your page about facial recognition and yet, like a lemming incapable of critical thought, you’re actually pushing the elites’ agenda! 😂😂😂

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      We can ask genteelly that all the people with name “Ted” that they stop writing nonsense ideas, then the air will be better.

    • avatar
      Ted

      So over population is not a problem and never will be .

    • avatar
      Martin

      how many kids do you have Ted?

    • avatar
      Ted

      Martin, None.

    • avatar
      Gérald

      Try this solution in Africa, India, Pakistan, … Mao, leader of communist China obliged his people having this limitation of birth : on child by couple, as result : a lot of girls were murdered , couples trying to have a boy which would help them for the work on the farm …. White people are limitating the number of their childs since centuries … The poverty is an obstacle to this politic : how more they are poor, how more they make childs

    • avatar
      Ted

      and i fear the more populated this world becomes the more it will become every thing for the rich and nothing for the poor , unfortunately i have seen rich and poor living in Bombay ,and Karachi ,and its heart breaking as much as it is sickening to see such richness and so much poverty and no one seems to be bothered about it. You are right in what you say about the murders of young girls brought about by child restricting but the western world needs to help , but where and how do we go about it ? .

    • avatar
      Jurgen

      Ted Fowler decreasing population is THE solution for most of the problems in the world today. The fact that this would have a great inpact on economic and political issues is why it will not happen. The eternal growth makes leaders blind and deaf for real solutions, while willingly looking away in order to maintain the power with the same people they lead us to multiple disasters. Not only the environment but quality of life itself.

    • avatar
      Ted

      Its not much diffent though with the attitude of people in general , we all agree electric generating windmills and solar energy is a great way forward , but any plans to put them in their area particularly windmills are fought against .

  11. avatar
    Gérald

    Try this solution in Africa, India, Pakistan, … Mao, leader of communist China obliged his people having this limitation of birth : on child by couple, as result : a lot of girls were murdered , couples trying to have a boy which would help them for the work on the farm …. White people are limitating the number of their childs since centuries … The poverty is an obstacle to this politic : how more they are poor, how more they make childs

  12. avatar
    Ted

    and i fear the more populated this world becomes the more it will become every thing for the rich and nothing for the poor , unfortunately i have seen rich and poor living in Bombay ,and Karachi ,and its heart breaking as much as it is sickening to see such richness and so much poverty and no one seems to be bothered about it. You are right in what you say about the murders of young girls brought about by child restricting but the western world needs to help , but where and how do we go about it ? .

  13. avatar
    Jurgen

    decreasing population is THE solution for most of the problems in the world today. The fact that this would have a great inpact on economic and political issues is why it will not happen. The eternal growth makes leaders blind and deaf for real solutions, while willingly looking away in order to maintain the power with the same people they lead us to multiple disasters. Not only the environment but quality of life itself.

  14. avatar
    Ted

    Its not much diffent though with the attitude of people in general , we all agree electric generating windmills and solar energy is a great way forward , but any plans to put them in their area particularly windmills are fought against .

  15. avatar
    Jan

    Planet Earth needs saving? Until the Sun starts expanding much further, it should pretty much continue to be the habitable lump of rock it has been for the past billion years or so ;-)

  16. avatar
    Yannick

    Well, yes and no. In the end of the day, it’s always a handful of courageous individuals who changed the world, or to be precise, led others to change the world. But as simple individuals, those of us unwilling to be on the front lines, there isn’t much we can do because the system is rigged by design. It is unsustainable by design. It is the design that must change. It must be made in a way so that the least path of resistance – life for normal people – *is* simply sustainable. That requires serious political action for redesign – like, putting a 100eur/ton carbon levy to start with. All individuals can do in democracies is to vote for parties who have such a plan, *and* to not fall for the neoliberal/oil-and-car-industry-friendly argument that it’s all up to individuals to not chose to fly or drive..

  17. avatar
    Marc

    For sure climate is a secondary trouble for the human species
    The biggest damage to come is the massive population which shall live on earth in around 2100
    Eighty years, no more; normaly Greta has a real chance to see it and live it !
    We will be the double of actualy; this mean around 12 billions of people on the small earth
    We are now around 7 billions and we heavily damage and destroy earth
    What will happend with 12 billions people
    I think pollution and environnement will be empty words at this time
    We shall be like locuts flying and destroying everything
    No material possibility to give some work to such population
    What about any social economics political and financial discipline in this next future world
    No debate or think about how to conceal such ongoing disaster
    Just words about CO2 and diesel
    This is really foolish
    Knowing many experts in demography are sure we shall be 20 billions on earth around 2125….
    You say pollution…..

  18. avatar
    Édouard

    Bonjour quand( les) catastrophe arrivera peut-être les politiques & multinationales bougerons car insurrections !!!

  19. avatar
    Marc

    Individuals can make a difference! Especially when they tell the truth and don’t follow the political agenda of the neoliberal corporatists!
    CO2 has nothing to do with climate change. That’s not to say that the climate isn’t changing. Or that pollution isn’t a huge problem either!

  20. avatar
    Vanloy

    birthcontrol, quotes on kids is unavoidable, no homes that are unnessecairy , brazins and exit religious and ideological damaged goods! Islam, communism, kapitalism… No emmigration for economicall reasons and muslims stay to resolve thei’re problems with religion in their owhn countries! Remigration and borders for Europe exit EU and we can begin a new chapter of mankind !

  21. avatar
    catherine benning

    Politicians with low intellect and little vision, who erroneously believe they have the gifts of Plato and as a result, hold back those with the wisdom of Solomon from seats rightfully theirs. Rather than get the heck out of the way to allow much needed creative expansion of the human species.

  22. avatar
    clden

    It’s not much different from the attitude of people in general, we all agree electric generating windmills and solar energy is a great way forward, but when there are plans to put them in an area they are fought against, particularly wind turbines.

  23. avatar
    clden

    It’s not much different from the attitude of people in general, we all agree electric generating windmills and solar energy is a great way forward, but when there are plans to put them in an area they are fought against, particularly wind turbines

  24. avatar
    Vincenzo, Gaia, Alice, Gift

    We think that citizens can make a difference in their own way, because they are the majority and they can influence businesses (for example if people don’t buy plastic, big companies will not produce it) and, with their vote, the government.

  25. avatar
    Varis

    Everyone has the responsibility of saving the planet because the planet doesn’t only belong to the governments. Everyone should do something, in their own small way. Individuals CAN make a difference. We CAN make difference.

  26. avatar
    catherine benning

    Save the planet from what? Failed government policy which created the mess our planet is in?

  27. avatar
    Bódis

    “Saving the planet” is a political PR to instill centralized control aka green communism.
    If every country, town and family took care of its own surroundings responsibly, then nobody would have to “save the planet” and we could all live in freedom.
    It’s a known relationship that in countries where the GDP per capita increases above 5000$ the people start to care about their environment.
    So maybe the globalist oligarchy should just stop ripping off the developing countries “in order to save the planet” and we can clean up those countries too while we keep our freedom. There’s a novel idea.
    Our political and economic systems were subverted by the oligarchy. Enough!

    • avatar
      Dirk

      The only problem is the populations explosion to 10 billion in 2050 !! THOUSANDS of billions of tax money for a highly inflated and non-threatening climate problem is fine …. But then 20 billion for free contraceptives, free sterilization to avoid the 10 billion people in 2050 is not possible, A few tens of billions for the third world of cleanliness running water and basic electricity is not possible !!! …. What a selfishness that crazy climate religion…..CO2 only makes the planet greener and food production increases.

    • avatar
      Bódis

      “Capitalism is the best contraceptive.”
      Once people start to earn more they will have fewer babies. It has happened everywhere with the expection of some religious extremist communities.
      So, how about allowing developing countries to develop and kick the butt of the oligarchs that have been robbing them for decades? The African nations with the most valuable resources are amongst the poorest countries on the planet. The people are kept down, uneducated, weak and poor, in order to be able to rob them. Meanwhile none of the hypocrites in the west will speak up against the robbery. They want to make European and American taxpayers pay for some development so the oligarchs’ robbery can carry on undisturbed.

    • avatar
      Bódis

      Of yes, CO2 is excellent plant food. Sudan became much greener thanks to getting more CO2.

  28. avatar
    Bódis

    Imagine all the developments that were made in every area of life in the past 100 years: how travel, manufacturing, education, communication, medicine etc changed. Amazing progress was made in every main area of life except for one: our fuels.
    What do cartels do? They distort the market and prevent new entries to the market. What’s the biggest cartel on the planet? It’s OPEC. Do you still wonder why we had no breakthrough fuel innovations in all this time?

  29. avatar
    Maria

    The Big corporations,must sustain all the changes. No more taxes for the working people

    • avatar
      Martin

      if you tax businesses who do you think ends up paying? And exactly how does taxation help the planet.

    • avatar
      Maria

      you are also right. But the government here and all over are going to increse taxes, lying about climate Changes

  30. avatar
    Yannick

    There has been academic research on this topic. Truth is that although it does take critical mass to generate change, individuals are morally less responsible simply because as individuals we are part of the oil-based system. Individual choices can show others and lead by example, but what matters more is what individuals can do to change the system itself. Most individuals can vote, and therefore the first moral duty is to vote for the parties who propose the greenest agendas. Most individuals can also chose where they work, or they can made decisions within their work to change the system. What matters is who has decision-making power to make systemic changes. Heads of corporations have more power to make change than average Joe. And politicians will only go as far as they are mandated to. Conclusion: vote green, and go after the few who are ruining it for everyone.

  31. avatar
    Dirk

    What’s the problem ? There has been NO temperature rise in the last 25 years and the sea level rises barely 1 to 2 millimeters per year …. And CO2 only makes the planet greener and food production increases.

    • avatar
      Jurgen

      er is maar 1 echt probleem, een toenemende wereldbevolking.

    • avatar
      Dirk

      Inderdaad, maar DUIZENDEN miljarden belastinggeld voor een sterk opgeblazen en niet bedreigend klimaat probleem gaat wel …. Maar dan 20 miljard voor gratis voorbehoedsmiddelen, gratis sterelisatie om de 10 miljard mensen in 2050 te vermijden dat gaat niet, Enkele tientallen miljarden om de derde wereld van proper stromend water en basis elektriciteit te voor zien gaat niet!!!….

  32. avatar
    Claude

    Who’s responsible for saving Europe and our culture?

  33. avatar
    Jurgen

    the people… they have the freedom to do what they think is wright, if governments or corporations are given the task it will be a loss of freedom and a lot more expensive.

  34. avatar
    Aerts

    Everyone is responsible to act in a sustainable way. It should become the lifestyle. Large corporations and governments should be examples of sustainable behaviour.

  35. avatar
    Michael

    STOP CHEMTRAILS AND THERE IS NO CO2 B.S.

  36. avatar
    Martin

    Define saving the planet. Force everyone into poverty is not a plan.

    • avatar
      Julia

      In consumer goods, it is the responsibility of the consumer. Corporations will adjust to demand. For energy it is the responsibility of the governments. However the for-profit system is the biggest obstacle for everything as trade must be profitable and able to compete on the global platform. Therefore an update is required to the entire system globally. As money is created by debt, money can be created to subsidise everything so it is created in a way that is not harming the environment. Then that debt can be deleted. The way that banks that go bust delete some people’s debt, just write it off. It happened in Cyprus to people I know when the Laiki Bank went bust. Money can also be created, then the debt deleted to subsidise all human beings on earth so their basic needs can be met thereby abolish human suffering globally. Of course the for-profit model is still required for goods and services, but that can sit right on top. We can design any system when we want, however we want. Humanity has just forgotten that very simple fact.

  37. avatar
    Phillip

    An all-seeing, centralized, authoritarian, franco-german super-state of course!!!

  38. avatar
    Pierre

    I am. You are. Each of us is.

  39. avatar
    Ozan

    The point is not to save the planet. The point is to save human race.

  40. avatar
    Enric

    I think “save the Planet” is a little exagerated…

  41. avatar
    Cãlin

    Somehow as a joke, responsible for saving the planet are the two world authorities: God and the World Government. (We still don’t have the second)

  42. avatar
    Giulia

    Everyone. We can do our best, we can choose what we eat, how we move and such…as consumers we have a huge power, but more importantly we can put pressure on governments to act and do something real.

  43. avatar
    Riccardo

    you know who’s responsible for DESTROYING it? Businesses and governments.

  44. avatar
    Tom

    The US government. Until the world’s biggest power doesn’t show the courage to sacrifice a little of their economic power, greedy and hubris for the good of a planet we all share then there will always be an excuse for the other naughty nations to pass the buck. Now that an America that would really win back the ♥️ of her allies and the world

  45. avatar
    Dalla

    Planet can’t be “saved”, so this is just a boy play like “is it stronger Superman or Batman??”

  46. avatar
    Mihalis

    The others….althought ..the planet is fine…people are fucked..

  47. avatar
    Bódis

    Who is responsible for polluting the planet?
    The biggest polluters are the corporations and they get awy with it because the governments let them do it.
    800 years ago people who polluted the river were punished severely.

  48. avatar
    Dionis

    Those (people or countries) who pollute the most.

  49. avatar
    Dan

    The question is Who is responsible for destroying it! Stop the greedy corporstions and the planet will recover in a spit second.

    • avatar
      Dan

      And by recover I mean it will cotinue to sustain humankind. Only us humans are în real danger. The planet will be here and will continue to be here long after we’re gone.

  50. avatar
    Tristan

    I think everyone has their responsibilities to save and take care of this world. However, government and business, in my opinion, have to start this ‘Button’ first, in order to lead the citizens and people. But what I can observe is a vicious circle because they run the country only for their benefits. In this world, people really need to think about the term “PEST” and try to protect it.

  51. avatar
    Tristan

    I think everyone has their responsibility to save and take care of this world.
    However, Government and Business, in my opinion, should start the ‘Button” first, in order to lead the citizens and people. But what I can observe is a vicious cycle because they run this country only for their benefits and interests. In this world, people really have to think about the “PEST analysis” and try to protect it through this way. We cannot just stand where we are, we have to move and improve

  52. avatar
    Dawn Marie Baldwin

    Government are saying air quality not the breakdown of the entire ecosystem in which earth was made up from! Its like a soup without liquid!

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