Imagine if businesses had to pay for their impacts on natural resources such as clean water, air quality, and land. Many advocates and research organizations have pointed out that cheap products, including food, would be much more expensive if these environmental costs were considered.
Trucost, a consulting firm that crunches the numbers on environmental externalities, delved into this question by investigating whether global industries are really making a profit in the long run if environmental impacts are considered.
Trucost’s report Natural Capital At Risk: The Top 100 Externalities of Business,” commissioned by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), found that every single impactful sector of the world’s industries was in the red. Not one major industry is making a profit that exceeds its economic impact on the natural environment.
Trucost found that across the globe, the true value of the unpriced natural capital consumed every year by the top industrial sectors amounts to US$7.3 trillion, or 13 percent of the global economic output in 2013.