The planet teeters on the edge of a critical juncture. As we step into the new year, a pivotal year awaits—one that holds the promise of a convergence between heightened environmental consciousness and the surge of groundbreaking technological advancements. This synergy fuels hope for a substantial leap in combating the pressing crisis of 2024. On this, we’re basing our 2024 sustainability predictions as a climate tech leader in air quality solutions.
1. Lower Emissions: priority #1 for all
Change is brewing
According to New Scientist, if governments rally behind clean energy and emission reductions as agreed upon at COP28, we might witness a decline in total carbon emissions.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) brings good news for renewable energy. Solar and wind power are set to match fossil fuels, exceeding 4,500 gigawatts by 2024. Meanwhile, there's a rethink on using new generation nuclear energy as a B plan.
Under this chapter, scrutiny of Scope 3 emissions is expected to intensify as stakeholders seek greater transparency and actions on climate change.
Higher pressure for action
It's not just governments feeling the heat. "Worldwide, organizations are feeling the pressure to respond to changing sustainability requirements and new regulatory environments. They are doing this at different paces and are at different maturity levels regarding their sustainable transformation efforts, which poses unique challenges in terms of their strategy development, organizational and cultural changes, operational adjustments, and technology use," said Bjoern Stengel, global sustainability research lead at IDC.
2. The Rise of Climate Tech and Climate Fintech
Continued excitement surrounding new technologies
In the realm of sustainability enablement, the interplay of technology and finance takes center stage. In particular, carbon-capture tech will continue to boom (and be controversial), fuelling the growth of the climate tech industry, from DAC, to CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) and CDR (Carbon Dioxide Removal) or NBS (Nature Based Solutions). The excitement around these advancements is mirrored in the financial arena, as explained below.
A new unicorn is coming?
Climate tech companies have just wrapped up their most successful fundraising quarter in nearly two years, amassing a staggering $16.6 billion in investments, as highlighted by BloombergNEF's latest analysis.
More than mere financial backing, these investments often come bundled with invaluable strategic guidance from climate investors, catapulting pioneering startups toward rapid expansion, as observed by Venture Capital - Católica Lisbon. According to Forrester, in this landscape, the stage is set for the rise of unicorns—companies valued at over $1 billion. Two unicorn companies focusing on water or air quality (aha!) are poised to emerge.
3. ESG Reporting: love and hate
Escalating ESG mandates
In the realm of sustainability reporting, the tides are set to turn dramatically in 2024, ushering in a wave of new stringent ESG-related regulations worldwide. Europe takes the lead, spearheading this transformation with a pioneering approach, notably through The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), championing the concept of double materiality. A seismic shift awaits as the number of companies mandated to report in Europe skyrockets from 11,600 to a staggering 49,000, marking a pivotal moment in accountability and disclosure.
This will prompt organizations to invest further in ESG compliance and reporting. Quite a rough see to navigate, for both multinationals, navigating diverse national regulations, and smaller enterprises, grappling with limited expertise and resources to forge a robust ESG strategy.
Will this create a market opportunity for sustainability consultancies? Highly probable. Signs strongly indicate the affirmative, marking a potential boon for consultancies to steer organizations through the tempestuous waters of ESG compliance and strategy implementation.
Strong need (and hope) for standardization
That’s why Increased regulation will generate a need to create a more uniform approach to ESG. Countries and regions will have to engage in global collaboration to establish common standards. What for? To both simplify compliance for but also drive consistency in ESG reporting worldwide. But it’s not all, see what comes next.
Greenwashing no longer washes
Picture this: a world where consumers, investors, employees, and regulators have donned their detective hats, sniffing out the truth behind those "eco-friendly" claims. The days of falling for exaggerated or misleading sustainability pitches? They're fading away faster than yesterday's headlines..
A recent proposal in the EU provides a regulatory framework for consumers who are targeted by greenwashing claims to seek recourse. It also provides much needed guidelines for how companies should substantiate environmentally friendly claims.
In this new chapter, it's not about throwing around buzzwords or hiding behind thin green veils. It’s about rolling up sleeves and showing the real deal and value. Companies need to prove they're not just talking the talk but walking the talk.
4. A turnaround in air quality strategies
Air pollution is a much wider problem than CO2
Although most of the attention about air is focused on CO2, 2024 will witness a pronounced focus on a holistic perspective of air quality. People and companies are beginning to realize that the air quality problem is much beyond CO2. It is dawning on the minds of many that by the time we reach Net Zero, we will all be suffocating from other air pollutants.
Air quality strategies for health and productivity
Now the exciting part of Sustainability predictions for 2024! that we see the attention on air quality to continue growing and broadening, at many levels. The spotlight on air quality keeps getting brighter, expanding its reach across different fronts. For example, at COP28, talks revolved around national efforts and funding to slash methane emissions by 30% by 2030—a promising stride toward cleaner air on a global scale.
But here's the kicker: it's not just about health; it's about workplace mojo too. Research by Professor Ussama Khan from the London Business School connects higher pollution levels to less-than-ideal boss behavior. Toxic air isn't just a health risk; it might be behind your boss's bad mood!
From global agendas to workplace dynamics, the focus on air quality isn't just a breath of fresh air—it's shaping up to be a game-changer, impacting health and productivity on multiple levels. How?
Why pioneering companies are investing in clean air
If small companies - such as pharmacies - are investing in clean are as an extra service to their customers and be different from other retailers, larger companies are investing in air quality to improve people’s wellbeing and productivity or to reinforce their ESG scores.
Enter the Pure Air Zone Impact Factor, for example: it’s tailor-made for this very purpose. By linking air quality enhancements to GRI scores, companies can write a new success story in their impact reports. It’s like adding a fresh, compelling chapter that highlights their commitment to not just profitability but to the health of their people and the planet.
5. Climate Risk Management integrating with business strategies
In our sustainability predictions for 2024, climate risk management is expected to be seamlessly integrated into the core risk management strategies of an increasing number of organisations.
The trend also indicates an increase in the sale of insurance products tailored to climate risks.
Forward-thinking organizations are adopting sophisticated climate scenario analysis as a fundamental component of their risk management practices. This involves modeling various potential future climate scenarios, considering factors such as temperature changes, extreme weather events, and shifts in precipitation patterns.
And…even lawsuits: This Global Climate Litigation Report: 2023 Status Review shows that people are increasingly turning to the courts to combat the climate crisis.
By simulating these scenarios, businesses can assess and, most importantly, manage the potential impact on their operations, supply chains, and overall resilience. It’s a fact that some of our customers become Pure Air Zone also to prevent the risks of health-related disputes in the workplace.
6. The Double-Edged Sword of Technology in Sustainability
Technology, while hailed as a catalyst for climate transition, also wields a double-edged sword—it can drive significant energy consumption. Sustainability is also pervading the IT and digital Industry.
The quest for green data centres, especially in Europe, is on the rise. The demand is fueled by a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5%, reaching $12.25 billion in annual revenue by 2028 as to Sustainable Tech Partner predictions. Investors are also increasingly channeling funds into green data centres, aligning financial interests with the overarching goal of sustainability.
However, the sustainability challenge of new technology doesn't stop there.
AI, while holding the potential to supercharge the sustainable transition, also poses a quandary. Its energy consumption exceeds earlier projections by cloud providers, raising pertinent questions about its environmental footprint. As the pursuit of sustainability intertwines with technological advancements, finding the equilibrium between innovation and energy efficiency becomes ever more crucial.
7. Other 2024 sustainability predictions
Much more is happening. Our last picks are on these last highlights.
Rise in Climate Jobs: a clear sustainability trend for 2024
Clean energy jobs have surged by a remarkable 10% over the past two years, signaling a continued upward trajectory in 2024, as per insights from Tech Crunch. The job market is embracing the shift towards sustainability, with climate-focused roles emerging as a promising avenue for career growth.
Biodiversity Pledges to Gain Momentum
Businesses are gearing up to tackle biodiversity concerns, preparing to comply with evolving legislation on nature and biodiversity. Monitoring and aligning with these regulations will become imperative as the spotlight on biodiversity intensifies.
Sustainability Leaders needed Across All Sectors
Sustainability isn't just a departmental concern—it's a cultural shift demanding attention across all roles and industries. Companies are realizing the necessity of embedding sustainability leadership into diverse job functions to navigate this transformative change effectively.
Embracing Nature-Based Solutions
Firms are pivoting towards nature-based solutions in 2024, recognizing their potential to curtail environmental impact while yielding positive social and economic outcomes. This shift marks a strategic move towards holistic sustainability approaches.
Consumer Demand for Authentic Sustainability
Consumers in 2024 want brands to prioritize sustainability and back their words with concrete actions as Kantar Marketing Trends 2024 report points out. In 2023, 42% of successful companies already incorporated these metrics, compared to just 26% in 2021, clearly demonstrating this trend. The counterevidence is that - as we read on The Round Up - 62% of people say they “always or often” seek products to purchase because they are sustainable.
Explore 2024 sustainability predictions: climate job growth, green tech's impact, and the rise of biodiversity initiatives."Conclusion on 2024 Environmental forecasts
As we embark on the journey that is 2024, these sustainability predictions offer a glimpse into a world where businesses, technology, and finance should converge with a shared goal, creating a sustainable and eco-conscious future.
Air quality, in the perspective of people's health and competitive advantage, is going to play a bigger role. Our hope, for the new year, is that these trends convert into a real commitment to lower our impact and protect humankind and the legacy we leave behind.