Although the current Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to minimizing pollution, climate change remains the greatest environmental threat of the 21st century, with profound consequences in several areas: environmental, social and economic. All of us, without exception, are being affected by this issue. Nature, governments, economies and, very important to remember, us. There is no doubt that human activity is the main cause of these changes, because since the beginning of the industrial revolution, man has promoted the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But if on the one hand we are the problem, on the other we are the solution. How can we solve this? One good suggestion is by progressively eliminating the massive use of fossil fuels and replacing them with renewable energies.
The European Union is aware of this problem and has been working to promote a more sustainable future. One of the European Union goals presented in the "Sustainable development in the European Union, edition 2019 " Report is to make our planet a clean place for all, by strengthening countries resilience and capacity to adapt to climate-related risks. More specifically, the aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce energy consumption and increase renewable energy share. This awareness has increased over the past few years, and, more than being aware, it is necessary to predict what is to come in order to set priorities, address the risks, opportunities and expectations that are likely to emerge over the next years.
In today's post, we decided to gather six 2020 environmental trends, by SustainAbility Trends 2020. These trends are part of a company's macroenvironment, that is, they are not directly related to the business, but can have an impact on it. So, this can be useful for those who are now studying the conditions to start a new business and want to opt for more sustainable options. It is increasingly necessary to adapt our life, and our work, to the conditions around us.
1. 2020: the decade of climate mitigation
The public and private sectors will need to focus on an accelerated transition to low-carbon energy, as well as investment in carbon capture solutions, in order to mitigate the ongoing large-scale combustion of coal, oil and gas. More than 220 global companies have already set 100% renewable energy targets, but only a relatively small subset are from the high-emitting sectors.
Curiosity: Repsol recently became the first large oil and gas company to set a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 and Microsoft announced an ambitious goal to become carbon negative by 2030.
2. Some critical events are happening earlier than expected
This includes the rapid loss of ice sheets from the Arctic and Antarctic, the extinction of coral reefs and the increase in catastrophic fires witnessed in Australia, North America, Latin America and Europe. Scientists predict that fires, storms, floods and droughts will become more frequent and intense as the rise in global temperature exceeds 1.2 ° C. In the business field, companies will face increasing pressure from investors to conduct risk assessments. Since in the future, infrastructures must be prepared for extreme climatic conditions, financial gaps will have to be eliminated in order to allow necessary adaptations.
3. Companies of the future
Consumer goods companies are increasingly testing and adopting circular strategies. This includes, for example, redesigning products to require less material and energy; replacement of finite materials with renewables, among others. There is an urgent need to scale these activities up and recognize the potential of the circular economy as a path to a low carbon future. In 2020 and beyond, we expect more companies to innovate, collaborate and demonstrate the opportunities of a circular economy.
4. Anti-plastic measures
This year will be crucial for plastic action, with new attention calls to tackle the use of plastic and its replacement with sustainable options. With a number of bans and regulations that came into force and greater awareness on producer and consumer responsibility, particularly in Europe, companies will come under increased pressure to put into action robust plans to achieve their plastic commitments. Countries like China and Indonesia are already implementing plastic reduction measures and plans.
5. Change in consumption behavior
More and more consumers are choosing sustainable brands. At the same time, many others, despite their best intentions, are not in a position to buy "environmentally friendly" products, either due to time or money constraints. To close this gap, sustainable living needs to be made more affordable. Also, we’ll continue to see a growing number of companies providing products and services that enable consumers to live more sustainable lifestyles.
6. Need to protect biodiversity
Animal species are disappearing at record rates. A United Nations report found that up to one million species are currently threatened with extinction. While awareness of biodiversity loss is increasing, private sector solutions to address the problem remain insufficient. This year the private sector is expected to have a much stronger voice. If leaders do not raise this issue, the mass extinction of species and the collapse of the ecosystem will continue.
As we can see, there is still a long way to go if we want to protect our planet. The change begins in each of us. As Greta Thunberg said, we already have the facts and the solutions, all we need is to put the solutions into practice. This is exactly the mission of the EIT Climate-KIC, Europe’s leading climate innovation initiative: implementing innovative ideas in order to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy. In partnership with Climate-KIC, BGI also helps to find sustainable and innovative solutions, in order to guarantee a development model that meets the needs of today's society without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy theirs.
And if you stayed until the end of this post, we present you with a novelty! Make sure you follow the Portuguese startups being supported by the EU initiative to fight climate change: EIT Climate KIC in 2020:
AgroGrIN Tech (AGT) deals with fruit residues generated in food industries with high production of greenhouse gases (GHG), causing economic and environmental problems due to overproduction and poor conditions. They provide a profitable after life for food waste in the transformation industry.
Builtrix helps companies to understand and reduce energy consumption. It is a web-based energy tracking, analysis and benchmarking platform designed for commercial buildings. They provide a complete 360 ° view of energy consumption in commercial buildings.
PLASBLOCK provides a waste based palette block for the cargo industry. It mitigates the use of virgin resources, such as wood and plastic, preserving forests, and mitigates the occupation of landfills, recovering waste that was previously taken to these places.
SCUBIC is an analytical platform for the intelligent management of water supply systems. It uses machine learning techniques with historical and meteorological data in real time, to determine the lowest cost schedules for pumping water, ensuring operational restrictions.
Spawnfoam's biocomposite is a product for ODS climate action, with the particularity of looking and being "green", unlike other compostable industrial plastic vases. Biodegradable pots, such as coconut fiber and peat pots, look green, but are more environmentally friendly because they save more than 200,000 tons of CO2 emissions / year.
These startups are doing their part to change the world. If each of us does it’s part, even with small gestures, we will be able to make planet Earth a better home.
“Because we all share this planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. This is not just a dream, but a necessity” - Dalai Lama.
Remember, we only have one home. And although the planet doesn't need us, we certainly need the planet.