A pure industrial revolution is the only way to achieve net zero


To avoid a climate catastrophe, the whole world needs to change the way it does business. It is difficult to overestimate the extent of the change that is needed. We need new ways to grow food, make things, move, produce electricity, heat and cool our buildings, all without emitting greenhouse gases. What the world needs right now is new, clean industrial revolution, so we can reach net zero by 2050.

That is an ambitious goal, but it is achievable. I think that in 2022, three things will happen that will accelerate the essential transition to a clean economy.

It’s the first one climate change will remain a high priority. This may not seem like much, but it will actually be a break from the past. After the 2008 recession, polls showed that climate change has fallen far off on the list of priorities for voters around the world. In this crisis, however, climate change is not in the background. Even in places devastated by a pandemic, young people, activists, shareholders and employees will hold government and corporate leaders responsible for real progress.

Second, business and political leaders around the world will respond to these demands with concrete plans to eliminate emissions. This will also be a break from the past, when governments and corporations were able to make vague promises that are good for feeling that didn’t actually do much to solve the problem. Those days are over.

In 2022 and later, companies will receive credit not only for investing in sustainability, but also for creation real guys investment – especially in clean technologies that reduce future emissions. Investors will accelerate the move away from technologies that contribute to climate change, building on a global trend that has seen private capital invest more and more in the energy transition, rising to $ 500 billion (£ 361 billion) in 2020.

Investors will also increasingly reward companies that take bold steps to fund technologies we need to reach zero but have not yet implemented – technologies such as clean hydrogen, direct air capture, long-term electricity storage and sustainable aviation fuels. These investments will be driven by better tools, such as the New Climate Technology Framework developed by the non-profit Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which measures the impact that today’s clean energy investments will have on tomorrow’s emissions.

We will also see how the private and public sectors use their purchasing power to create new markets for cleaner products — such as the obligation to buy electric vehicle fleets, use cleaner steel and cement for their construction projects, and get more electricity from carbon-free sources. . As the consumption of these products increases, their markets will become more mature, encouraging innovation and lowering prices.

The more governments and companies are involved in eliminating emissions, the more they need partnerships with others. So my third prediction is that we will see the rise of new ways of working together.

Governments and the private sector will create new business models so that we can build markets for these products and accelerate the transition to a clean economy. One example is the work the European Commission is doing with Breakthrough Energy, a network of investment funds, philanthropic programs and advocacy efforts that I have set up. Over the next five years, Breakthrough Energy and the European Commission will mobilize up to $ 1 billion (£ 722 million) to build large-scale commercial demonstration projects for climate-smart technologies, generating work-based learning needed to reduce the cost of new solutions. More partnerships like this will emerge in 2022.

I am excited about the year ahead and I believe we are just at the beginning of a revolution driven by the next generation of clean technologies. The challenge before us cannot be greater, but the seeds of a net zero economy are being sown all over the world.


Get more expert predictions for next year. WIRED World in 2022 contains the intelligence and insights you need to know that come from the smartest minds in the WIRED network. Available now at newsstands, such as a digital download, or you can order your copy online.


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