There has never been a more technically proficient time in human history—and companies are using the mass accumulation of knowledge to address climate change and shift our energy priorities.
- Day 4 of Davos 2023 has begun, with the environment continuing to be a significant theme of discussion in this year’s panel discussions.
- Jeremy Jurgens is the managing director of the World Economic Forum, and he contributed a piece with Fortune as part of Davos.
- With the world facing a projected temperature increase of 2.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century, Jurgens says that the world has the technologies it needs to make a transition to clean energy happen.
- “Only urgent action can help us reverse the trend. The good news is that for the first time in history, humanity has a reason to feel optimistic about our capacity to change course for the better,” he says.
Why It’s Important
The momentum on the discussion of climate change has rapidly shifted in the past several years, with more global governments and corporations agreeing to pivot toward social responsibility and clean-energy initiatives. The signing of the Inflation Reduction Act and the European Sovereignty Fund have spurred private-sector interest and innovation, creating public-private partnerships that can change the world economy.
While the business side of climate innovation is more energetic than ever, the world economy still runs on fossil fuels and the International Energy Agency predicts that the world won’t see serious change before 2050, assuming the current momentum is kept. As the market for clean energy grows, the more businesses will lean into investing there, reducing the attraction for policymakers to push public funds into the effort.
As Jurgens points out though, the world is in a very good position to take advantage of the technological infrastructure and knowledge that is already in place. Technological innovation continues at pace, having rapidly improved the lifespans and quality of life for billions of people.
“There are now more engineers and scientists than at any point in history, with expertise more broadly distributed around the world. And with continued advances in A.I., computing capacity, sensors, and other capabilities, they have powerful tools to develop new technology and improve the efficiency of existing systems. These technologists and executives have the know-how and motivation to further slash emissions and develop clean energy solutions.”
As we’ve reported repeatedly, new advancements in hydrogen technology, carbon scrubbing, nuclear fusion, electric vehicles, and low-carbon burning technology have grown in the past year and will only continue to grow as world governments subsidize clean energy alternatives. These technologies offer the opportunity to transition the world economy to cleaner alternatives while protecting the environment and preserving the average people’s standard of living over time. Technology stands to grow more efficient, more scalable, and more consumer-friendly over time, and over time continued efforts will bear more fruit.
“Leaders need to build momentum by taking the first steps in exploring and implementing new technologies. They’ll need to explore the edge of their businesses to transform the core. This will require three key changes—[Mindset, Practices, and Systems perspective]—Businesses that make these key changes can maximize the big opportunities we have now to further the energy transition,” says Jurgen.