Growth models based on fossil fuels are out of date and out of touch with our planet
Sustainable energy zooms into focus, as we enter a new decade. Yet, we are still far away from a world that has transformed to renewable energy sources. In fact, the opposite is the case: we reached a new record in carbon emissions in 2019 and it is expected that we will set new highs again for each of the next five years.
For decades, scientific evidence has illuminated the urgent need to reduce C02 levels to stop temperatures rising towards levels that will destabilise our ecosystem. With the commitments, if kept, of the failed UN climate talks in Madrid, we are still heading for a catastrophic 2-degree increase in average global temperatures — and that spells trouble.
Nature has given us plenty of warnings with an increase in extreme events like Japan experiencing the most powerful hurricane in 65 years; the devastating California forest fires; the summer of 2017 in Europe with record-breaking temperatures and little or no rain leading to droughts. Siberia has been burning all summer with immense wildfires threatening cities and towns.
And as we passed into the new year in Australia forest fires have burned an area of land larger than the Netherlands. As the fires had cost the lives of an estimated 500 million animals, 7 people, including firefighters, and toxic smoke led to serious health consequences, a debate emerged on whether it would have been appropriate to continue with the world-famous New Years eve fireworks show in the Sydney harbour.
Why is it then, that we see an increased urgency among individuals and in certain countries, but we are unable to reach a consensus during multilateral climate talks? Brazil, the United States and Australia seem unwilling to commit to any agreement, as their conservative and populist leaders have seen an opportunity — despite the evidence — to discredit climate efforts.
Moreover, they consider climate targets too costly and damaging to their economies. What they fail to recognize, and disregard is that the costs of the combined damages are actually higher than the investments needed to transform their economies. In Sydney, for example, unprecedented bushfires have left the city ablaze. Estimates are that the smoke around Sydney alone has cost up to 50 million Australian dollars. For the US, the Californian wildfires will cost the state up to 80 billion dollars for 2019 alone.
Besides, combating C02 for the environment, the direct health of individuals can be also be improved. In the European Union alone, there are currently nearly half a million citizens who die prematurely, each year, due to bad air quality. And in many parts of the world air quality is considerably worse. Just to remind those that argue we should not do anything to transform our energy use towards sustainable means; fossil fuels are finite! Sooner or later we will need to transform our economies anyway.
In brief, we need to transform our energy production for three key reasons: fossil fuels are finite, it improves our health and it is effective in combating climate change. The countries and companies that recognise this, and are proactive in making the necessary changes will accrue long term strategic and cost benefits.
Fortunately, we see plenty of positive initiatives as well, such as the European Union that is setting up a massive fund to transform European economies to carbon neutral by 2050. The implications and details of it have yet to be defined, but it will have a significant impact on nearly all European businesses, either directly or indirectly.
As European president, Ursula von der Leyen, just mentioned while presenting the green deal:
“The old growth model that has prevailed for so long, based on fossil fuels and pollution is out of date and it is out of touch with our planet”.
Currently, about 50% of C02 emissions and 90% of biodiversity loss comes from resource extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food and the “take-make-dispose” model is highly polluting. The deal aims to change this to stimulate a circular economy, and create jobs and boost innovation.
Within the corporate space, the sustainability topic over the last decade has gained significant attention as well. As an example, in 2013, only 20% of S&P companies disclosed sustainability reporting. Today it’s more than 80%. We argue that this trend will continue, metrics to measure sustainability will improve and become more aligned, and
The 20s that we have freshly entered, will become the decade of the sustainable business model, or at least the transition towards it.
Contrary to popular belief, stricter regulations are not bad for business, or the economy in general. Instead, corporate venture builder FoundersLane has proven that despite new regulations, profitable business opportunities through new digital ventures, are possible. We have built on ventures with this mindset and we see within basically any industry that there are opportunities to venture profitably based on changing regulation, changes in societal attitudes and intrinsic motivations of corporates themselves to work more sustainable.
Yet, it is not easy for corporates to adjust and transform, so in the Energy and Sustainability vertical at FoundersLane, we are here to help you on this journey. Overcoming the challenge of maintaining the economy and cash flows, yet transitioning to cleaner energy, is vital to us all, in particular, future generations. Within FoundersLane we have two verticals that work on purpose-driven topics: Health, and Energy & Sustainability. Within the latter, I work with an amazing team on ventures that both spur new growth for organisations, and aim to achieve the more altruistic goal of working towards a better world.
As experts on platform business models, we can accelerate and enable sustainable solutions. We have extensive circular economy knowledge and take advantage of the technologies that the fourth industrial revolution provides us with. With this, we want to build ventures that should at least have the potential to be transformational in different organisations. And not just for big business, but also transformational for the planet. By working together with our partners, we can have an enduring impact.
Our aim is to move to a more circular and sustainable planet. But we can’t do this alone. So we co-create with trusted corporate partners only and build new ventures together. We all share the responsibility. Hence, our ambitions stretch well beyond what we can do alone. Yet we want to pay our part, so we are interested in co-creating a better future with different stakeholders, cooperatively.
Reach out if you leading the transition to digital business models at a large enterprise.