The need to enable scaling of available, effective solutions in addition to dealing with barriers and problems associated with climate action was discussed in the article titled “
The desire to act and make a difference leads to the implementation of solutions by stakeholders like industry and government. Thankfully there are many who show the inclination to take effective climate action.
The journey to scale climate action has been very interesting. While the desire to drive positive change gets action going, each entity soon discovers that it is possible to do much more in the climate action space than it had originally thought possible. Corporations who have started with modest goals have gone on to achieve much larger goals and the work has always been a huge benefit to the core business.
The discovery that more is possible than originally envisaged is enabled by the emergence and evolution of technology. Today we have access to affordable LED lights and can dream of reducing energy consumption in lighting by more than 30 percent.
This was unthinkable less than five years ago. Energy efficient air-conditioners, motors and other electrical devices have completely reshaped the energy use space in recent years and are helping corporations reduce their carbon footprint and enabling India to meet one of its climate action commitments in the Paris agreement that was signed by 194 countries.
It would be foolhardy not to mention the advances in affordable and efficient conversion of solar and wind energy to electrical energy. The net present value of the unit cost of electricity over the lifetime of a generating asset (levelised cost of electricity or LCOE) of onshore wind and utility-scale solar PV have fallen by 67 percent and 86 percent, respectively as the cost of components has plummeted and efficiency has increased.
This trend has enabled more than 135 large corporations of the world to commit to use 100 percent renewable energy by the time the second half of this century comes around and more than 109 nations have targets for scaling renewable energy generation in their nationally determined contributions that are a part of the Paris Agreement.
As a result, the market size for clean energy technologies such as wind, solar and biofuels is projected to grow to $2,152,903 million by 2025 from $1,405,646 million in 2016 according to a study done by Allied Market Research 2018.
It is widely anticipated that fossil fuel powered transportation will give way to electricity powered transportation in the foreseeable future. This is because the costs of manufacturing an electric vehicle are coming down consistently due to developments in battery technology. There are many other technologies that are triggering strong climate action.
The top 10 most promising technologies identified by the World Economic Forum in 2018 include energy efficient water purification, lab grown meat, augmented reality, carbon dioxide conversion, etc... which will enable low carbon living.
Other technologies that are expected to shape the future of a low carbon way of life include 3-D printing, biofuels for aviation, waste to energy conversion technologies, optimised reverse logistics for circular economy, green construction technologies, robotics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain, carbon capture and use, advanced materials, etc.
When some of these technologies come together the impact can be phenomenal. The use of perovskite in solar photovoltaic cells has the potential to take conversion efficiency of solar cells from around 18 percent to over 30 percent, an increase more than 1.67 times. The advent of flexible solar cells with break the paradigm of rigid solar panels and completely revolutionise the distributed generation of solar power.
We are no longer constrained by technology to take climate action. There are numerous possibilities in the area of overlap of planet and profit with more possibilities emerging by the day. In a sense, it is the biggest business opportunity ever and the biggest opportunity to reboot lives of people in this generation.
All it takes is the desire to get started and, every time we do, we will discover that more is possible than we had originally envisaged. We can credibly aspire to give back more than we take from nature as a regular part of our lifestyle in the future.
Anirban Ghosh leads sustainability at the $20.7-billion Mahindra Group.