2021 is coming to a close, and it has been a few weeks since the COP26 delegates and activists and corporate executives have departed from Scotland.
Post COP26, I’d like to start from a glass partially full point of optimism. Sure, the conference can be described as a hypefest, and there may have been more corporate folks than government negotiators attending.
And firm commitments were not in abundance. The UN Secretary-General bluntly said it was time for us to stop treating nature like a toilet.
And I wish there were more focus on the effects of people, not just the planet – after all, as the scientist Susan Hayhoe aptly noted: “People always talk about saving the planet. But the planet will be orbiting the sun long after we’re gone.”
But a clear positive for me was that innovation was higher on the agenda than ever, with a focus on new technologies to fight climate change, and to make progress on the SDGs.
One COP26 announcement you may have missed was the so-called Breakthrough Initiative, signed by leaders of more than 40 countries (including Japan) agreeing to work together to turbo-charge the uptake of clean technologies by imposing worldwide standards and policies, and coordinate investment. The idea is to speed up production and bring forward the ‘tipping point’ at which green technologies are more affordable than existing fossil-fuelled alternatives. And thus, the sustainable transition and cuts in carbon emissions accelerate rapidly toward a net zero economy.
The first five ‘breakthroughs’ are projected to be clean electricity, electric vehicles, green steel, hydrogen and sustainable farming.
The aim is to make these affordable and available to all nations by 2030 and create millions of new jobs.
The cost of solar panels, LED bulbs and lithium ion batteries have plunged by about 90% in the past decade, with solar and wind power now the cheapest power in most of the world, though there is still the problem of making that power available to more people, more regularly
Electric cars are already cheaper to run than those burning fossil fuels and are close to the tipping point when they become cheaper to buy.
Consumers and governments are demanding more sustainable food systems, and more sustainable products in general.
I agree with the economist Nicholas Stern when he says: “The move to net zero [emissions] can be the great driver of a new form of growth – the growth story of the 21st century.
This growth will be more resource-efficient, more productive, and healthier, and will offer greater protection to our biodiversity.”
This belief helps shape our vision at SDG Impact Japan.
We are already investing in the entrepreneurs, and the companies that are passionately, urgently helping shape a sustainable future for all of us.
This is not about leveraging a new market segment, or riding a new investment trend. It is about putting all our focus and energy into helping create a better world.
We have started with purpose and urgency – supporting brave early stage clean tech and waste tech companies – like Nilo, which uses plastic waste to build roads – and Sea Change, helping create emissions-free sea ferries.
And ventures finding solutions for a more sustainable food systems, as well as data analytics tools for all companies and organizations to manage and improve their sustainability.
New investment tools are also required as the sustainable transition becomes more urgent and complex.
So we will soon launch the first of our next gen strategies for investment in publicly listed companies, aiming to set new benchmarks for ESG investments.
We want to play a role in driving the movement towards more oneness of people and planet, and a sustainable future.
Please join us!
We will provide regular updates the nexus of technology, investment and sustainability –and a leading expert will provide his take on the rise of green data in the next instalment.