A safe and sustainable future
Business as usual is not an option.
The future is not what it used to be. Rising global temperatures, diminishing natural resources and deepening inequality threaten everyone’s prospects, including those yet to be born. Yet alongside these new global challenges are new innovations, solutions and opportunities that make a safe and sustainable future possible: a world where nine billion people can thrive while living within the environmental limits of the planet. In this theme, we set a vision towards this future. We analyse the barriers to change and detail the concrete actions that governments, business and civil society must take together if the obstacles are to be overcome and the opportunities for safer, smarter and greener growth are to be seized.
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From Technology to Innovation
A safe and sustainable future is technically possible.
Technology has always been an enabler of societal change and we can expect that it will play a pivotal role in our transition to a safe and sustainable future. Indeed, existing technology is already unlocking safer, smarter, greener solutions for powering our economy, transporting our goods, caring for our sick and feeding our growing population. But history shows that transformative technologies – from the automobile to the internet – can take decades to reach scale. And time is one resource we do not have. How can we accelerate the deployment and commercialisation of sustainable technologies while ensuring that they are introduced safely into society? In this theme, we investigate this question, analysing the barriers to technological uptake and providing insights from past and present technologies.
Adaptation to a changing climate
The climate is already changing, and mitigation is no longer sufficient.
Climate change mitigation remains essential for our work to build a safe and sustainable future. But the greenhouse gases that have accumulated in the atmosphere over the past century and a half have already set changes in motion. Infrastructure and communities around the world urgently need to adapt to a climate characterised by more frequent and more severe storms, droughts and floods. And given the interdependence between business and society, business has a strong interest and critical role to play in these efforts. In this theme we have been developing tools to help both businesses and communities adapt to this new risk reality: a web-based platform for sharing information and best practices; a risk-based framework to help decision-makers prioritise their adaptation investments; and a new protocol to equip leaders to measure and manage community resilience to climate change.
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The future of shipping
The drive for sustainability is rewriting the rules for all industries – and shipping will be no exception.
Shipping is the lifeblood of our economy and the lowest-carbon mode of transport available to a world with ever-rising consumption. It therefore has a crucial part to play in a safe and sustainable future. But the industry faces a challenging climate: more intense public scrutiny of safety and security, tightening restrictions on environmental impacts and a revolution in digital technology. To meet these challenges, we have analysed six technology pathways that can help us achieve three ambitions for 2050: reduce the sector’s fatality rates 90 per cent and reduce fleet-wide CO2 emissions 60 per cent, all without increasing the costs of shipping.
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Electrifying the future
Electrification holds the potential to decouple society’s energy use from its greenhouse gas emissions.
Electricity has already revolutionised the way we power our operations, fuel our vehicles, and light and heat our buildings – and it will have an even bigger role to play in the decades to come. Many emerging technologies can provide cleaner, smarter, affordable and reliable energy. Renewable sources such as floating offshore wind can provide emissions-free power at scale by 2050. And a suite of smart grid technologies will provide households and communities with leaner, more local power. In this theme, we take a closer look at these technologies, and examine the contributions they can make to providing low-carbon power to future generations.
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The Arctic: The new risk frontier
The decline of sea ice means that the Arctic is more accessible than ever before.
The Arctic offers a preview of a new paradigm for business: harsher environments, higher public scrutiny and a greater need to engage with stakeholders. As industries enter the Arctic, understanding, communicating and managing risks will be essential both to earning social licence to operate and minimising the impacts of their activities. With such high stakes, the Arctic will be a defining frontier – not just of operations, but of safer, smarter, greener technologies and standards. The Arctic is rich with resources and dilemmas. And while there are no easy answers to these dilemmas, we must tackle questions about its development step by step, based on a common understanding of the risks. In this theme, we examine the complex Arctic risk picture and explore its implications for shipping, oil and gas, and oil spill response.