Sustainability is top of mind for consumers, companies, and governments around the world.  As renewable energy becomes more feasible and technology advances us toward a cleaner future, it is apparent that resource availability, future profits, and the state of our planet will be dependent on the choices made in the next few decades.  The sustainability landscape changes year to year to reflect the newest regulations and trends, so reports are released regularly to keep up to date.  Let’s look at the updated sustainability trends by industry.

Earlier this year, Mckinsey & Company released two reports that are quite relevant to the conversation of sustainability: the Global Energy Perspective 2021 in January and America 2021: Renewing the nation’s commitment to climate action in February.  These reports focus on energy and climate, respectively, two of the overarching themes in the race to become more sustainable. 

In terms of sustainability in the energy industry, we see the peaks of fossil-fuel demand moving up in the timeline, with oil demand forecasted to peak in 2029, gas demand to peak in 2037, and coal demand steadily decreasing.  However, cheaper renewable energy sources are expected to dominate the global power markets, which will provide an alternative to fossil fuels, and at a lower cost—within the decade, renewable energy is expected to be cheaper than fossil fuels.  By 2035, over 50 percent of power generation around the world will come from renewable sources.

One of the driving factors of this transition is the looming threat of irreversible climate change.  The second Mckinsey & Company provides several recommended actionable steps for the United States to take in continuing the commitment to preventing further climate change.  Examples of these include modernizing infrastructure, encouraging innovation in the low-carbon technology sector, and mobilizing global trade. Business experts recommend that companies take leadership in sustainability as well, as consumers may be quick to look at which firms stay committed to promises of environmental responsibility. 

The aerospace and automotive industries are two other industries where sustainability plays a role.  First, in aerospace, sustainable aviation fuel is providing the most feasible option to keep the industry on track with the 1.5-degree pathway of the Paris Climate Agreement. The transition to sustainable aviation fuel is predicted to be a possibility by 2030, as over 250,000 commercial flights have been powered by this fuel.  In the automotive industry, road transportation accounts for 13 percent of global carbon emissionsElectric automobiles may be the key to decreasing this number if they become more mainstream among consumers.  This transition would need to happen relatively quickly and be accompanied by a reduction in miles traveled.

As we can see, many industries are working simultaneously toward the goal of sustainability. The collaboration between governments, industry leaders, and consumers may be the ticket to a more sustainable future on a relatively quick timeline and at a reasonable cost.

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