Sustainability in 2023: My ‘Predictions’
For a few years, every January an environmental website used to ask me for my predictions for 2023. I never liked doing it as I either had to say ‘Trend X will continue’ or make some wild predictions about sudden step changes which were very unlikely to come true, while missing some other unpredictable events – I mean, who foresaw the then PM Theresa May signing the UK up to Net Zero by 2050 in 2019?
So, I’m not going to indulge in wild predictions, but here are the trends I think we’ll see more of in 2023:
- Retrofitting existing housing stock will scale up from pilot projects to estate-level projects. There will be ‘learning experiences’ along the way, but by the end of the year, economies of scale and a stronger supply chain will start to make net zero housing more feasible which will, in turn, start to influence new build.
- The EV sector will start to grow and, with it, new models of charging infrastructure. As well as electric cars, cargobikes and other ebikes will be a much more common as people realise they don’t need cars so much. Micro-mobility won’t yet break through unless the Government legalises privately-owned escooters (and then the hire schemes will disappear the way most bike hire schemes have bitten the dust).
- Renewables will continue to trend upward, and with them the grid infrastructure developments such as vehicle-to-grid (V2G) to increase storage – I suspect we’ll start to see pilot projects of the latter start to emerge.
- The circular economy will be more talked about than done in practice. If any sector will make it happen, it will be plastic packaging.
- Likewise the hydrogen economy will get more hype, but little realisation.
- More pressure groups will follow Extinction Rebellion’s realisation that pissing off the general public isn’t a great recruiting sargeant.
- The reactionary right will continue their shift away from outright climate denialism to trying to put the brakes on change – we’ll hear more euphemisms for ‘do nothing’ such as “smart Net Zero”. Likewise, we’ll see more newspaper columns decrying ESG, CSR and EDI in business using selective anecdotes. The businesses that are apparently afflicted by such ‘woke’ thinking will ignore all this nonsense and get on with it.
I know I’m not really sticking my neck out with these, but there will be a couple of unexpected changes too.