By Michelle Gordon and Joachim Marc Christensen, Sustainia
In September 2015, all of the UN member states adopted 17 Global Goals to reach a more just and sustainable world by 2030 – “a better world with no one left behind.” Among them are ambitious targets such as putting an end to hunger and closing the gender equality gap.
One of these goals, Goal 13, is all about taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impact. With the Paris Agreement adopted just that same year, in theory we should be well underway towards a healthier global climate by now.
Unfortunately, we’re not on track to meet our climate action targets by 2030 – and consequently the goals set for 2100. According to a report released at the UN Global Compact’s Global Leader Summit last year and DNV GL’s report “The Future of Spaceship Earth,” our fight to stop climate change is one of the four Global Goals where we have the most to do to reach 2030 targets.
Sustainia, along with DNV GL and UN Global Compact, is working to take a closer look at how business could help us make real progress on these goals. Not surprisingly, we found a number of carbon-slashing markets with big business potential.
These markets are included in our new Global Opportunity Report, and add to an increasing pool of business opportunities for fighting climate change featured on our innovation hub, the Global Opportunity Explorer.
Let’s take a closer look at three of the most interesting business opportunities that can help put climate action back on track:
In a warming climate, it follows that people will need to cool their homes and businesses. Much of our current air-conditioning technology is outdated, heavily-polluting, and simply does not offer a sustainable solution. This opens up a new business opportunity to make cooling more efficient and better for our climate. Here are a few innovations we could see more of in the future:
- Solar-thermal technology represents not only an emissions-free alternative to cooling but also an energy-efficient one, consuming 30 to 90 percent less electricity than conventional AC.
- Another opportunity? Creating a natural cooling environment. Aligned Energy has pioneered a combination of techniques to cool data centers in a way that is both cost-efficient and more sustainable than traditional cooling systems.
- District cooling reduces cities’ carbon footprint and energy bills. Both Vienna and Copenhagen have taken advantage of waste heat from incineration plants to produce district cooling, a space-saving, environmentally friendly alternative to conventional cooling.
There’s no way around it: maritime transport is essential to global trade, but accordingly is also responsible for 2.6 percent of global carbon emissions. Fortunately, it’s already the least carbon- intensive way to transport goods. Through a combination of existing technologies and greater efficiency measures, the global fleet could reduce its consumption by 35-40 percent by 2050.
Sustainability is a growing priority in the boardrooms of the shipping sector’s clients, creating a lucrative opportunity for emissions-reducing products. For example, harvesting wind power isn’t just for sailing ships – the Norsepower Rotor Sail Solution is a technology that can reduce fuel consumption by up to 20 percent.
And you’ve heard of self-driving cars, but what about self-sailing ships? YARA Birkeland has seized this opportunity and developed the world’s first zero-emission, autonomous container feeder. This innovative solution offers the potential to result in the equilavent of 40,000 fewer diesel-powered truck journeys per year.
The world population is expected to balloon to 10 billion by 2050, and we can expect much of this growth to happen in the world’s cities. Everyone deserves a roof over their heads, but how do we provide this while keeping on track with our climate commitments? Especially when the construction industry is the largest global consumer of raw materials, with the built environment accounting for 25-40 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.
Behind the risk of exhausting natural resources and increasing greenhouse gas emissions, there’s an opportunity to house the world with a lighter impact. We’ve uncovered some ingenious companies leading the way:
- WinSun, which operates out of China, is 3D-printing entire prefabricated homes from recycled materials. The structures are highly energy-efficient, can withstand magnitude 9 earthquakes, and save significant time and resources during construction, with less waste and pollution of the environment.
- Urban mining is an innovative opportunity offered by Dutch company New Horizon, which reduces waste by dismantling old buildings ready for demolition, enabling these materials for use in new construction.
- Finally, Kokoboard is turning trash into cash! This Thai company is diverting agricultural waste from incineration and transformsing the material into construction boards, sequestering more than 200 tons of CO₂ annually.
EXPLORE THE OPPORTUNITIES
Did these climate tackling business opportunities pique your curiosity? Browse the Global Opportunity Explorer for more markets and innovation. We designed this as an online hub for businesses, investors, and entrepreneurs who wish to create lasting impact, long-term value and a sustainable world by 2030.