By Ben Hutt, CEO and Managing Director at Evergen
There’s been some debate about the impact of COVID-19 on carbon emissions. While global lockdowns have certainly meant some energy consumption has been reduced or altered, particularly around transport and commercial enterprise – that’s only natural when the world grinds to a halt – it’s risky to assume this will continue out the other side of the pandemic.
Like many, I am hopeful COVID-19 will mean a big reset on many fronts.
On a big picture level, the world has learned a ton about rapid collaboration in recent months. In a matter of weeks, we have built new hospitals, repurposed entire manufacturing plants into personal protective equipment (PPE) factories and generated the foundations of a COVID-19 test and vaccine that would normally take years to reach the market.
COVID-19 has caused a significant threat to humanity within a short timeframe. Over the longer term – but still within our lifetimes – global warming could wipe out our entire species.
We should now expect – even demand – greater and faster levels of collaboration between nations and experts to create improved social and environmental outcomes.
More locally, we may see greater interest in renewable energy as a means of reducing home energy pricing and maintaining a more independent lifestyle. This increased market scale is a great thing, that will hopefully also flow into workplaces.
That said, nothing we have seen in the past few months will turn back the clock on global warming. In fact, a big concern about COVID-19 is the level of distraction it creates away from environmental concerns. The financial impact of this pandemic will also disrupt the efforts of many of the companies that were previously focused on environmental solutions – particularly Startups.
Evergen is in a fortunate position to be able to continue our global momentum, having just closed a strong funding round. Many others will not be as fortunate.
3 things we need to do to stay on track to save the planet
What can we do to keep things on track, or better, use this disruptive period to gain even greater traction? Here’s three thoughts:
1. Continue the conversation – we need to keep up the national conversation around reducing carbon emissions. COVID-19 is losing us time for action, rather than gaining time.
2. Collaboration – we will naturally see some market consolidation on the other side of this pandemic. Let’s anticipate that and use the opportunity to the benefit of the environment. This might take the form of entities coming together or forming a network, local companies working together to focus efforts on the global opportunity, or open sourcing and outsourcing enterprise challenges in the energy area to the nimbler players in the Startup community.
3. Investment – the greatest challenge in getting rapid solutions to market is allowing those solutions to operate at scale quickly. Investment capital is needed to create that rapid scaling. While there is much talk about venture capital cutbacks as a result of COVID-19, we must lean on governments to make good their commitment to invest in environmental technologies and to support private investors who also do this with extra concessions. We still await the detail on a lot of this. This is a great investment opportunity – environmental, social and governance (ESG) continue to out-perform the market creating a win/win. We must continue to fund and back environmental innovation – otherwise we will all be beaten by speed.