Have you always thought that "being green" meant nothing positive? Well, in the world of new technologies, things are different and ever greener solutions are gaining ground. This is not only a trend among responsible business players, but also a necessary step in the face of climate change. The recent “Technology and Innovation Report 2023” clearly indicates that the development of eco-friendly technological solutions is one of the key pathways to counteracting excess carbon dioxide, rising temperatures, or the increasing dehydration of the planet.
“We are at the beginning of a technological revolution based on green technologies,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said. “This new wave of technological change will have a formidable impact on the global economy.”
The 2023 edition of the Technology and Innovation Report places great emphasis on how technological innovation can create 'green windows of opportunity'. Whilst acknowledging that technology alone cannot solve all our problems, and that some advances may have negative impacts, the report argues that if guided by the Sustainable Development Goals, scientific and technological progress can drive us towards more sustainable and equitable pathways, particularly in energy generation and usage.
With this in mind, let's take a closer look at how high-tech solutions can become a tool on the path to a better tomorrow.
The worldwide energy sector is undergoing significant changes that will fundamentally reshape it over the next few decades. Instead of depending mainly on fossil fuels, the industry is moving towards the future that revolves increasingly around renewable and other eco-friendly energy technologies. This shift has given rise to a new global energy economy, characterised by the swift expansion of clean energy technologies such as solar and wind power, electric vehicles, and even hydrogen electrolysers. Consequently, the industries involved in producing the necessary materials and products for the energy sector are also evolving, marking the start of a new era in manufacturing focused on clean energy technologies.
Following the Energy Technology Perspectives 2023 (by IEA), the realm of technology encompasses two principal categories of products: mass-manufactured and large-scale, site-tailored. The former is created in factories that utilise manufactured components and sub-assemblies to generate a finished, ready-to-use product. Mass-manufactured technologies include solar panels, wind turbines, electric cars, fuel cell trucks, heat pumps, and electrolysers.
Conversely, large-scale, site-tailored technologies are devised and manufactured to meet specific local conditions, with engineering, assembly, and installation being specific to the site. Natural gas-based hydrogen with carbon capture and storage (CCS), direct air capture (DAC), bioenergy with carbon capture (BECC), and low-emission synthetic hydrocarbon fuels are just some examples of the opportunities that lie ahead.
"Various widely used technologies, such as AI, AR, mobile apps, or smart payment software, significantly influence our daily lives. They are already transforming businesses, health care, finance, and education. When thinking about the world of tomorrow, it is worth mentioning that technology also helps to address problems facing civilization, like famine or climate change. I have high hopes for the RES (renewable energy sources) sector. Combining it with modern tech, we can minimize the global footprint through better energy management, effective resource allocation, and avoid future negative implications. Undoubtedly, technology is humanity’s strongest partner in fighting climate change," says Aleksandra Buszko, Project Manager at ERGO Technology & Services in Poland.
Sustainable mobility is another key step towards a greener lifestyle. Luckily, there are plenty of green technologies being used in the mobility sector to make this possible. Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular and are a great example of green technology in action. They produce zero emissions in operation, making them an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional petrol or diesel cars. Plus, advances in battery technology mean that they are becoming more affordable and have a longer range than ever before.
Another example of green technology in the mobility sector are public transportation systems that use renewable energy sources. Many cities are investing in electric buses that are charged using renewable energy, such as solar or wind power. This helps to further reduce emissions and improve air quality in densely populated areas.
Additionally, bike-sharing programs and pedestrian-friendly cities are also being promoted as part of sustainable mobility initiatives, encouraging people to adopt more eco-friendly modes of transportation. These are just a few examples of how green technologies are transforming the mobility sector and making sustainable transportation accessible and practical for everyone.
Did you know that the ocean is not just a stunning landscape but also a vital part of our planet? Covering two-thirds of the Earth's surface, it plays a significant role in regulating our climate by absorbing more than 90% of the excess heat and over a quarter of additional carbon dioxide emissions caused by human activity. Plus, it is the primary source of protein for over three billion people and has an estimated net worth of $24 trillion.
The blue economy is an exciting new concept that prioritises sustainable ocean use while promoting economic growth. The latest edition of the Tech Trend Radar 2023 shows that this approach includes essential industries such as food, energy, and transport, as well as recreational activities such as tourism and advanced industries like biotechnology and carbon storage. However, for this innovative economic model to be successful, capacity building and financial sector involvement must be integral to the plan.
As the world's largest common resource, the ocean requires effective coordination among various sectors, stakeholders, and governments to ensure that we develop a sustainable, inclusive, and equitable blue economy. With a shared vision and a commitment to using maritime resources responsibly, we can unlock the incredible potential of the blue economy while preserving our oceans for future generations.