The State of Sustainability
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Driven by ever-increasing demand, the energy industry is growing rapidly around the world, and especially in developing nations. At the same time, rapidly falling prices are turning renewables and natural gas into attractive alternatives to the dirty and dangerous coal industry. Advances in energy storage will be the catalyst that finally pushes the world towards clean power generation.
Oil, a non-renewable “fossil fuel,” currently accounts for approximately 37% of the US’s annual energy consumption and 33% of global energy consumption.
Gas, a non-renewable “fossil fuel,” currently accounts for approximately 29% of the US’s annual energy consumption and 24% of global energy consumption.
Coal, a non-renewable “fossil fuel,” currently accounts for approximately 15% of the US’s annual energy consumption and 29% of global energy consumption.
Solar power is a renewable energy source that currently accounts for approximately 0.6% of the US’s annual energy consumption and 0.45% of global energy consumption.
Hydro power is a renewable energy source that currently accounts for approximately 2.4% of the US’s annual energy consumption and 6.8% of global energy consumption.
Wind power is a renewable energy source that currently accounts for approximately 2.1% of the US’s annual energy consumption and 1.4% of global energy consumption.
Nuclear power is a renewable energy source that currently accounts for approximately 9% of the US’s annual energy consumption and 4.4% of global energy consumption.
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Renewable energy sources have become among the most competitive in the market due to technological improvements and decreasing inputs costs. While the industry is heavily centered around solar and wind, private investments as well as government-funded research support are helping support emerging technologies such as battery storage and green hydrogen that can provide more long-term seasonal energy storage. The solar PV system is expected to expand significantly in 2022 with an 85% cost decline over the past decade, increased interest in community solar projects in the U.S., and the potential for a pairing with the aforementioned storage improvements. Transmission projects pose a challenge for renewable growth, as they require approval from states and landowners impacted, but are expected to become a crucial part of the industry’s agenda for the upcoming years to boost energy access.
Advancements in aviation sustainability have been largely attributed to the fuel efficiency of new aircraft generations. However, a growing volume of air traffic due to tourism and trade has led to an overall increase in emissions from aviation. To continue reducing the environmental impact of the aviation industry, airlines and airports have implemented a number of technological and operational improvements such as air traffic control techniques, air traffic management systems, and wingtip devices. Long-term sustainability measures include lower carbon fuels, such as "Jet-A"fuel, and research into new aircraft engine designs. More market-based measures follow the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation guidelines adopted by the United Nations in 2016. CORSIA outlines a global carbon offsetting scheme, in which governments must purchase carbon credits equivalent to their emissions to fund carbon mitigation projects.
Beauty, Apparel, and Luxury Goods
With the advancement of online shopping platforms and increased consumer demand for new, quickly-produced products, the beauty and fashion industry has boomed in recent years. While clothing sales have more than doubled since the turn of the century, the average lifespan of products has decreased, leading to unsustainable consumption patterns. At the same time, manufacturers of these products frequently rely on outdated, damaging production practices to meet the demand of consumers. From more efficient fabric dyeing methods to redesigned wastewater management systems, investments into all aspects of sustainable production in the beauty, apparel, and luxury goods industries have become more crucial than ever before.
Food and Beverage
Companies in the global food and beverage industry are seeking to cut prices for the consumer through more efficient supply chains and faster production, while still ensuring that their products are safe to consume. However, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry has experienced severe disruptions. Moreover, as many customer groups are seeking healthier and more nutritional options today, companies must find innovative techniques for food and beverage processing, production, and delivery. The rise of conscious consumers—those who place value on the social and environmental impact of the products they consume— make corporate responsibility and sustainability practices more important than ever in this industry.