As we cast our gaze out towards the year ahead of us, we do so with the concerning awareness that we draw ever closer to “the climate clock” reaching zero. The climate clock is a timer designed by scientists and activists to count down the time that humanity has left to prevent the Earth from warming by more than 1.5 degrees celsius. Its current estimate is July 2029.
That’s right, we only have 6 and a half years left before the global average temperature increases by more than 1.5 C, when the planet will continue its rampage toward catastrophic climate change.
At the onset of 2023, what are some of the more important technologies that are helping us win the war, and what are the new innovations that will speed up our fight and strengthen our chance of winning? There are a number of trends that media, politicians, corporates and the public alike are starting to discuss and adopt, so let’s dig into what they are, and how they’re helping humanity in the war against carbon emissions…
1. Increased Shift To Renewables
It is no secret that Europe is undergoing a severe energy crisis at the moment. As winter grips the region in icy cold snaps, residents are turning their heating up in greater volumes and placing huge demand on the electricity grid. But driving the crisis is of course the horrifying war in Ukraine.
The war has created a geo-political climate that has placed Russia at odds with the rest of Europe, and because Russia is rich in gas and oil, it exports considerable amounts of energy south of its borders. This energy is now being turned off as Europe tries to impose sanctions on Russia, which in turn is causing European countries to grapple for alternative energy solutions.
These solutions are of course renewables. Solar and wind energy is being rolled out at astonishing rates across the continent, and many countries in the area are targeting 100% energy independence within the next decade, much of that independence driven by these renewables.
But the trend is not limited to Europe and its crisis-driven search. Elsewhere across the globe governments have realised the power available in renewable energy, and thanks to superior technology they are able to roll out such infrastructure at far cheaper costs than previously thought. According to a recent report by REN21, more than 3,146 GigaWatts of renewable energy capacity was installed across the globe in 2022. This is remarkably promising!
2. Deforestation Reduction
As emphasised numerous times on the EcoWatt blog, deforestation is one of the biggest vulnerabilities in humanity’s fight. Each tree removed from natural forests around the globe is another natural CO2 absorber taken out of circulation! With forest trees absorbing significant amounts of carbon and CO2 from the atmosphere on a daily basis, we just cannot afford any increases in deforestation anywhere in the world!
The good news is that the public are starting to find their voice in preventing devastating deforestation. Brazil for instance have just elected a new president, Lula da Silva, and he is more serious than ever about protecting the Amazon rainforests, known rightfully as the Lungs of Planet Earth.
In the USA, too, six key midterm election results held in November 2022 saw climate positive candidates win key races, with each of those promising to add weight to the fight against deforestation globally.
Indonesia too, an area abundant in rainforests, have just completed a year where they removed less forests than they did in 2021 – meeting their targets of reducing deforestation by up to 82% in some areas!
We are seeing a global fightback against deforestation, and with our reforestation and aforestation projects here at EcoWatt gaining momentum, we couldn’t be happier!
3. Nuclear Energy Adoption
The warnings of devastating climate change are finally getting heard, it would seem! Many of the world’s leading scientists will tell you that nuclear energy is the cleanest and cheapest way for humanity to sustain its energy appetite. The fact is, without considerable nuclear energy plugged into the global grid, we won’t achieve our climate goals.
But after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, many nations were spooked off by the technology due to the potential radioactive fallout, and many nuclear projects were scrapped. The good news however is that the climate activists who have long emphasised the need for nuclear energy reliance are now being heard.
Poland for instance are scrambling to build new nuclear energy plants as part of their energy independence initiative, while Japan themselves have made a massive u-turn in their nuclear policies saying that it will form part of their energy plans going forward. Even in the US, policy makers are now exploring “transportable nuclear energy” in the race to move away from fossil fuels.
However you look at it, nuclear is back on the table – and that is extremely promising for Earth’s climate goals!
4. Nuclear Fusion Technology
Speaking of nuclear, a massive trend that currently has everyone talking is that of “nuclear fusion”. The dream of creating an entirely self-sustaining energy source is one step closer to becoming a reality. Unlike nuclear fission technology (the current form of nuclear power), nuclear fusion creates a self-sustaining energy loop, much like our own sun is able to continue burning in perpetuity.
Scientists have been exploring the technology for decades, and in late 2022 researchers at the US National Ignition Facility in California confirmed that their fusion experiments had released more energy than was pumped in by their lab’s high-powered lasers, a milestone achievement known scientifically as “energy gain”. While there are numerous hurdles yet to overcome, and likely years and years of experiments still to conduct, the experiment has the entire world talking, and has “reignited” humanity’s interest in what would be one of the most breakthrough technologies of all time.
5. Shift To Electric Transport
Gas guzzling SUVs and trucks are becoming increasingly unfashionable, and a remarkable amount of people and companies alike shifted to electric vehicles in 2022. Electric vehicle sales grew by an extraordinary 23% globally, and is projected to grow by as much as 30% in 2023. If you don’t know someone who owns an electric vehicle by now, you will in 2023.
But it is more than just consumer vehicle purchases to watch. Governments globally are switching their fleets to electric as fast as they can, with the likes of Cape Town (South Africa), Vermont (USA), Nairobi (Kenya), and Victoria (Australia) all making large scale commitments to new electric buses. 2022 even saw a landmark flight by Airbus who tested their new hydrogen fuel cell in their huge double decker A380, showing that fossil fuels are well and truly on their last legs!
6. Recycling Is Back On The Agenda
It would have seemed as though recycling was a forgotten about trend in recent years, but the reality is that the need to reuse so much of our packaging and old products has never been greater. Unfortunately, one reason that recycling has been gaining a lot of media attention in late 2022 is because a new report by the World Economic Forum revealed that plastic is not being recycled as much as we had hoped.
The report highlighted the fact that a lot of plastic that is labelled “recyclable” is actually not, and the planet is not reaching its plastic recycling targets. While this may seem like a downer, it has a very positive spin: News agencies around the world picked up on the report and governments have already started to make moves to implement stronger policy and invest in plastic recycling initiatives.
Even bigger positives to come out of the report though are those of glass, paper and aluminium. We as a planet are meeting our targets on these materials at outstanding rates! For instance, more than 68% of all paper was recycled in 2022, aluminium cans have increased in consumption by 10% (meaning less people are using plastic containers for their drinks), and glass bottle recycling is up to 34% of all bottles!
These are indeed promising signs, and this is an important agenda to keep an eye on going into 2023.
7. Innovative Funding Sources
The final point in our exploration of climate trends going into 2023 is around funding sources. If humanity is indeed going to hit its climate change targets before July 2029, we will need private and public funding partnerships in much greater numbers. Fortunately, policy makers and governments the world over recognise the importance here, and we are seeing encouraging signs that critical “green capital” is being deployed.
One of the biggest challenges is that of “the global south”: much of the developing world “south of Europe” and “south of the USA”. Many of these developing nations are facing catastrophic natural disasters like flooding or drought, but they cannot adequately fund the rolling out of sustainable energy sources when their budgets are focussed on basics such as education, sanitation, etc.
The International Monetary Fund just recently announced innovative debt swap deals that will allow many developing nations to swap their debt in return for renewable energy infrastructure and climate change mitigation technologies. IE. A country would reduce its debt repayments to the IMF, and use that freed budget to build renewable energy infrastructure – it is a form of investment by the likes of the IMF (and other intergovernmental working groups) into green infrastructure in emerging economies, without physically deploying new capital.
In the private sector, we are seeing numerous investment strategies that are attracting capital from all corners of the globe and deploying much needed finance to innovative green technologies. Of course, one example of such a strategy is that of our very own tokenization of carbon credits via our unique blockchain model. With our impact and green portfolios, we are looking forward to 2023 being a key year for EcoWatt in seeing more adoption of this model, and making it readily available across blockchain platforms around the world!
There is so much to talk about when it comes to climate trends and what to expect in 2023, the reality is: There is so much going on in this industry!
Companies and individuals alike are working harder than ever to fight climate change and reduce our global emissions, and it is clear that this work is paying off. From new nuclear energy sources to innovative green financing, from new recycling targets to reduced deforestation, the stories keep on coming from all across the globe about people making a dent in building a better world.
There is a lot to keep watch of when it comes to mitigating catastrophic climate change, and you can rest assured that EcoWatt will keep you up to date with the very latest in what will be most beneficial for all of humanity!
Ren21 climate report:
US Climate Change election results:
Poland energy independence:
Transportable nuclear power:
Japan does U-turn on nuclear:
Nuclear fusion in California University:
Cape Town buses:
WEF Recycling Stats:
IMF Green Debt Swaps: