A light at the end of the tunnel.
Climate change is perhaps the biggest threat we are facing as a civilization — if things go wrong, they will go really wrong across all disciplines of life for pretty much everyone. Heralded as the point of no return by thousands of organizations and scientists for decades, the moment when it will become too late to save the climate of our planet from a dramatic shift is now estimated to be just about 7 years from today.
The world is waking up to this on a larger scale every year. Beyond recent US declarations, “China, some of the Gulf States, and India are investing in green energy on a scale that would have been considered improbable even a decade ago. “ reports McKinsey. Venture Capital investment in climate tech is growing rapidly, with $60bn coming in the first half of 2021 alone, reports PwC. Climate action is becoming better funded by the day, which is spurring a wave of innovation and entrepreneurship. The solutions are becoming accessible. The price of solar energy, for example, plunged from $21 per watt in 1980 to $1 per watt today — making it cheaper than natural gas.
COVID-19 has opened the eyes of many on the issue and increased popular demand for action. “At the height of the coronavirus pandemic in April 2020, with many countries in lockdown, daily global CO2 emissions fell 17% compared with 2019 levels. The drop is certainly major — emissions were temporarily comparable to 2006 levels — but the fact it was not, even more, gives an insight into how much deeper emissions cuts need to go than the lifestyle changes available to individual people.” — wrote BBC Future.
Popular demand for climate action is driving companies to choose carbon-neutral sources of power. In 2020, Facebook (now Meta) announced that they had reached carbon neutrality. “We set these goals in 2018 and today we are one of the largest corporate buyers of renewable energy,” Facebook said. “We have contracts in place for more than six gigawatts of wind and solar energy across 18 states and five countries. All 63 projects are new and located on the same electrical grids as the data centres they support.” — this follows declarations from Apple, Google and many others.
The United States is transitioning away from coal and is innovating in a wide array of green technologies, such as batteries, carbon-capture methods, and electric vehicles. We are seeing a continued push for lowering carbon emissions and the use of alternative carbon-neutral fuels. What is coming onto the agenda, much more than the gentle action and greenwashing of past decades, is large scale industrial carbon removal and sequestration.
“In 2025, carbon footprints will be viewed as socially unacceptable, much like drink driving is today.” — World Economic Forum
We can expect around ten trillion dollars of institutional climate investment being injected into the US economy over the next several years. To put this into perspective, this is more than 10x the valuation of Facebook and 5x the valuation of Apple (the most valuable public company in the world). It’s also 75x the entire film industry ($136 billion in 2018), slated to be deployed this decade, with most coming over the next 4 years.
All this leads not just to new opportunities for business, but also to upcoming explosions in Climate careers. Climate change is making its way onto curriculums, setting the stage for a rising generation of climate professionals. Gen Z lists climate change as a top global concern.
As Wunderman+Thompson noticed, there are growing opportunities for brands that want to tackle climate change to partner with rewilding initiatives — which can often also mean carbon sequestration and community impact work.
Big polluters like the US and China are making bold promises about energy sustainability and independence. We are seeing a diversity of new technologies aimed at both reducing and removing the world’s emissions, unleashing a wave of innovation to compare with the industrial and digital revolutions of the past.
Over the next five years, the energy transition will reach a tipping point. The cost of new-build renewable energy will be lower than the marginal cost of fossil fuels, according to the World Economic Forum website. Renewable energy is rapidly becoming a preferred “mainstream” energy source, according to Deloitte. A BCEI whitepaper released by Square points to the crossroads between progressing decentralization of finance and accelerated scaling of renewable energy.
As reported by Blackrock, the pandemic has added fuel to pre-existing structural trends and now “the tectonic shift towards sustainable investing is accelerating.” Much like in Climate, this is pushing ahead a large wave of entrepreneurship and innovation, however, focused more on the consumer (b2c) space.
“Respondents plan to double their sustainable assets under management in the next five years — rising from 18% of assets under management on average today to 37% on average by 2025.” — Blackrock
Increasingly outspoken consumers and employees are seeking responsible businesses and sustainable products and offerings, and the demand is only accelerating.
The race away from the point of no return is leading an increasing number of people to switch to choose “Climatarianism” — a new trend of climate-friendly, sustainable diets. Europeans and Gen Z choosing not to travel by air are pushing aviation and tourism industries to work toward carbon neutrality. Recycling remains marginally effective, plastic is still very much in play, and the conversation is rightly being shifted from plastic straws too much larger offenders. Reshaping supply chains offers ways to rethink recycling, upcycling, and transcycling. Pictures of plastic PPE polluting beaches are circulating the internet. “Seaspiracy,” a recent Netflix documentary, has caused a wide debate and will quite likely help the existing trend towards plant-based and climate-friendly diets.
As we emerge from the grip of COVID-19, we have a much stronger indication that the 20s will be a decisive time for humanity to tackle climate and rethink industries. With platforms like WeDontHaveTime increasingly serving as a crowd-sourced way to scrutinize green-washing, it does seem that we will see a large (and authentic!) shift to sustainability.
We're on it.
Inviting and accessible branding, messaging, and website for a blockchain-based infrastructure platform.
Brand Identity, UX, UV, Web DevExplore project
A brand ecosystem and set of websites that raised $70M to create real change in US politics.
Visual Identity, UX, UI, Web Dev