This is not my own idea, and unfortunately I do not know the name of the man who presented it. In the early 1990s I attended an Expo in Los Angeles that was about alternative energies. It was the sort of Expo that had both lectures and an exhibit floor with everything from solar systems to non-toxic cleaning products. I attended one lecture where a gentleman presented the idea that we change the way business keep their books.
He explained some of the basic concepts of accounting practices, how they evolved over the years prior to and after the industrial revolution. And he suggested that today we need accounting practices to respond to a new Revolution that takes the earth’s resources and community’s environments into account. He proposed that businesses need to record resources and environmental impacts as Liabilities - to be held on the books until the impacts were insignificant or cleared. If a business had to record a Liability on their books for using resource A (rather than simply transfer it as an Asset because it’s part of their inventory, which is what happens today), they might be financially motivated to look for more economical and sustainable solutions.
He also suggested that the only businesses that might even consider this to be a good idea would be the insurance industry because they will be the ones to pay for the detrimental impacts of the choices business were making regarding resource use and environmental impacts, and the ultimate impact on climate.
I wish I could remember this man’s name, and I wish he’d had a larger audience over the years for sharing his idea. I haven’t seen it discussed since, but I believe it’s time we revamp accounting practices to more accurately reflect the idea of Doughnut Economics.