The pandemic has caused changes in society and an accelerated journey into the future in certain structural changes that we were already experiencing. Climate change with a major impact on future society has not accelerated, but neither has it slowed down.

Demographic projections and the ecological footprint of a person, by feeding themselves and consuming energy, will imply an increase of 41 to 60 GT/year of greenhouse gases if we maintain current life systems. This puts us on track for an increase of about 5ºC above pre-industrial levels. Continued improvements in process efficiency and the use of renewable energy could lead to lower emissions, up to 35 GT/year and a 3ºC increase. Warming of more than 1.5ºC will lead to rising sea levels, widespread loss of biodiversity, new pests and insufficient water and land for food production.

Practically 100% of science agrees that our current lifestyle is responsible for this change. The doubts are not about whether there is climate change, they are about the speed of change. Any of these scenarios will require significant changes in society, people, business and economic systems.

A few months ago, the President of the Commission, Ursula Von de Leyen, proposed raising the EU’s reduction of pollutant emissions to 55% by 2030. We are facing an enormous challenge and it is easy to understand that our spirits are failing, but there are reasons to be optimistic, the vision of “sustainability” can be applied to all areas of human activity.

It is a huge challenge that must guide business strategies, public policies and financial instruments such as European recovery funds, in short, to transform society and people. Understanding the need to address these changes is fundamental for public-private collaboration and organizing ourselves to face the future with guarantees of success, as the Basque Government has done in its new structure linking Economic Development with Sustainability and the Environment.

The economic development of the future will be sustainable or there will be no development.

We face enormous challenges, and we wonder: where to start? Discover in our next post the main actions to fight climate change.


Author: Rogelio Pozo, CEO of AZTI