Trends impacting the Future of Sustainability
The production of energy is the largest contributor to global Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, being responsible for approximately 65% of total anthropogenic GHG emissions in 2010 (Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data, n.d.). If we want to achieve a higher rate of economic growth, then it is highly likely that we will consume a lot more fossil fuel.
However, due to the energy scarcity and increasing climate change, this is unsustainable. Here’s where technology comes in to transform the energy industry. By improving low emission energy technologies such as renewable energy, nuclear power and carbon dioxide capture and storage, we can achieve economic growth in an environmentally sustainable manner. While only a small percentage of the earth’s population relied entirely on renewable energy, we must understand that this is going to change with the rapid advancement of technology. The major challenge that arises from renewable energy is the ability to store and supply it when demand arises. Energy through nuclear, wind, solar and other sources can be fully exploited only if we have better energy storage technology, something that is currently in the making.
Similarly, when it comes to the automobile sector, electric vehicles (EVs) are increasingly becoming a viable alternative to traditional vehicles. The stock of EVs is forecast to reach between 40 million and 70 million by 2025, thus making them more affordable and easily available.
Batteries too are being designed in a way that will favour EVs. For example, Toyota has plans to develop all-solid-state batteries by 2022 (Staff, 2017).
However, replacing traditional vehicles with EVs will not be fruitful if the electricity supplied to the EVs are generated through fossil fuels. This will result in higher GHG emissions. EVs have the definite potential to transform the automobile sector, more importantly it will pave the way for environmental sustainability by reducing emissions to a great extent.
Whilst most mega cities across the world saw a huge reduction in carbon emissions during the pandemic, locals in Venice, Italy reported the return of fishes to the canals which were now clearly visible due to the clear water (Donato, 2020). A clear sign of nature reclaiming what it owns.
Reducing Emissions from Transport
Companies made alternative work arrangements with remote work policies without productivity being hit. Schools incorporated virtual learning very quickly causing minimal disruption to education. While most of these movement restrictions allowed nature to recuperate, they were temporary. If it needs to be sustained in the long run then there needs to be a radical change in the mind-set of industry and governmental leaders, it’s only them who can lead us on a path to sustainability.
No one is sure about how the post pandemic world will look like. However, if we have to emerge stronger and more powerful, we need to shift our focus towards sustainability. But first let’s understand what are different forms of sustainability. There are majorly four pillars of sustainability- human, economic, social and environmental.