It is abundantly clear that our collective well-being and the health of the global economy rely on our ability to mitigate environmental harm. In response to a 2023 survey by the World Economic Forum, global leaders identified “failure to mitigate climate change” as the number one risk facing humanity in the next 10 years. This was followed by “failure of climate-change adaptation,” “natural disasters and extreme weather events,” and “biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse.”
Mitigating climate change will require an overall reduction in the flow of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) into the atmosphere. By 2030, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will need to be reduced by 45% (below 2010 levels) and by 2050, the world will need to have achieved its net zero target. At the same time, other drivers of climate change and environmental degradation will need to be addressed, including pollution, land use change, biodiversity loss, and our overuse of finite resources. If these outcomes are not prioritized, we will be met with severe biophysical cascading effects, including reduced sea ice extent, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and more extreme floods, droughts, and fires.
While high-emitting and material-intensive sectors will be at the forefront of sustainability gains, all sectors have a role to play—even ICT, which despite being perceived as having minimal impacts on the environment, contributes to global GHG emissions, raw material extraction, pollution, and more.