Without adequate action, CO2 emissions from the US alone are expected to reach 4,807 million metric tons by 2050. What is tech doing to help solve for sustainability?
Thankfully, new technological innovations are emerging to help solve these challenges through substitution, prevention, and efficiency. Tech in Motion brought together leaders in the sustainable tech industry: Gio Sordoni, Co-Founder and COO at Xos, Dr. Alex Dehgan, Co-Founder and CEO at Conservation X Labs, and Tim Janssen, CEO and Co-Founder at Sofar Ocean, with Host James McWalter, host of the Carbotnic Cleantech podcast, to discuss how they are using technology to make an impact on real-world problems. Read on for the answers to some of the biggest questions about sustainable tech, and watch the full webinar below to hear the panel's in-depth insights.
What are some of the world's most pressing sustainability problems?
While it's difficult to sort and rank all of the environmental issues we face, it's important to note the ways that they are all connected. While commercial vehicles represent only 5% of total vehicles on the road, they account for 20% of US transportation emissions. These c02 emissions affect not only our air quality, but many other aspects of our environment, like our oceans, which absorb 25% of all carbon emissions. Due to the complexity of the worldwide sustainability crisis and the connectivity of the issues we face, Alex Dehgan believes “we need (all different types of professions) to be able to solve these problems.”
What are some new innovations in sustainability that are solving real-world problems?
Innovation is rapidly accelerating in the sustainable tech industry. On the issue of commercial vehicle emissions, Xos Trucks is helping decarbonize transportation by producing last-mile electric delivery vehicles that are inexpensive to maintain and reliable. These vehicles are an accessible way for businesses to better their bottom line as well as the planet.
When it comes to ocean conservation and sustainability, Conservation X Labs and Sofar Oceans are using technology to solve for the ocean data gap and fishing sustainability issues.
Tim Janssen, Sofar Ocean's CEO and Co-Founder, explains the massive ocean data gap, stating that "we know almost nothing about the ocean, so we can't track change." To solve for this, they created technology that allows us to actively monitor ocean and marine life conditions so that we can deploy resources where necessary.
Another current challenge facing marine life is seafood fraud, which is causing devastation to ocean ecosystems. Conservation x Labs is combatting this issue through a tool called NABIT. This hand-held device is helping prevent species extinction by verifying the DNA of seafood to put a stop to seafood fraud and illegal fishing activity.
Where do you want to see more innovation, and where should those who are looking to solve these problems focus on developing technologies or new businesses?
In the last few years, the public and private sector have turned their attention to cleantech investments - in particular, clean energy generation and transportation electrification. While Dr. Alex Dehgan explains that we still "need to think about how to de-risk (sustainable) investments), in general, we are no longer constrained by lack of capital or interest. The real issue is becoming deployment. Long lead times on permitting and backed-up supply chains are slowing down the development of these much-needed projects. Caroline Trowbridge, Board Member of Women in Cleantech, weighs in on this issue and recommends that innovators focus on how to speed up these processes to get these projects online faster and at a more affordable cost.
What opportunities are there to contribute to the growing sustainable tech industry?
There is no lack of capital when it comes to sustainable tech and global green technology, with the sustainability market size valued at $10.32 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $74.64 billion by 2030. Opportunities in the industry are only increasing and Dr. Alex Dehgan believes that “the world’s first trillionaire will be made in climate change."
Gio Sordoni also emphasizes that the "large and dominion corps of the next generation will be the ones that integrate the triple bottom line. Social and sustainable, along with economical.” Sustainable tech is the way of the future and as Gio said, if you "have a mission you believe in and care about, that’s how you will be successful" in this industry.