This week’s podcast marks a big one for our team. It’s number 52, which means we’ve been doing The Week in Sustainability for an entire year! What started as a YouTube experiment to share our thoughts on the biggest sustainability stories of the week, has turned into this weekly video podcast, which we share via our weekly newsletters (sign up in the footer of our website or via our LinkedIn), and distribute on all the major podcast platforms, including Apple and Spotify. We hope you continue to find this short weekly series valuable in your sustainability news routine.
We’re excited to celebrate a full year of sustainability milestones, challenges, and opportunities—let’s dive into the highs, lows, and what’s on the horizon for the world of sustainability.
Inflation Reduction Act: A financial windfall for clean energy
Remember the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) we discussed a while back? Initial projections estimated a $370 billion injection into clean energy projects. Fast forward to today, and that figure has skyrocketed to a whopping $1.2 trillion. Businesses aren’t just meeting these expectations; they’re surpassing them.
Since the IRA came into effect, over $150 billion has been allocated to clean energy initiatives, 50% ahead of plan. And this momentum isn’t confined to our borders—Europe’s Green Deal Industrial Plan and Australia’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund for solar and battery manufacturing indicate that the IRA’s ripple effects are global.
Proactive moves in supply chain sustainability
Companies are increasingly emphasizing sustainability in their supply chains, a trend we’re thrilled to be a part of. Giants like Amazon, SAP, and leading pharmaceutical firms are urging their suppliers to disclose carbon footprints, not waiting for SEC requirements and EU laws to become effective. This proactive approach is making transparency and supply chain sustainability staples in modern business operations.
Statewide and local actions: Electrification for a greener tomorrow
At the ground level, state and local governments are mandating sustainable construction practices, including natural gas-free new builds. Six states have enacted such regulations, and 103 towns across 11 states have implemented their own standards. The IRA complements these efforts by greening the electrical grid, making homes and businesses more efficient, and improving indoor air quality.
The elephant in the room: Extreme weather
While we celebrate progress, we must acknowledge the harsh realities of climate change. July was reportedly Earth’s hottest month in 120,000 years, accompanied by an increase in natural disasters like wildfires and floods. These alarming developments are making physical climate risk management an imminent concern for businesses.
Urban heat islands and adaptive strategies
Our focus also extended to urban heat islands, a growing concern for city dwellers. Fortunately, innovative strategies, such as urban tree planting and heat-reflecting paints, are being tested to mitigate these effects.
Climate risk: A growing concern for businesses
A study in Nature Sustainability suggests that incremental warming will push more people into uninhabitable zones, affecting agriculture and economic growth. This sentiment is echoed in the business world, with insurance companies withdrawing from regions at higher climate risk. Expect risk mitigation to become an integral part of the broader business conversation.
Electric vehicles: An industry in flux
Lastly, let’s talk about electric vehicles (EVs). Almost every major carmaker now offers an EV model, and the market share for EVs has risen from 4% in 2020 to 14% in 2022. This trend is monumental because road transport accounts for over 15% of global energy-related emissions.
The road ahead
As we move into our next year of The Week in Sustainability, we remain committed to tracking and discussing sustainability in all its facets. We look forward to continuing this essential conversation and are eager to hear what you want us to explore next!
1. European Parliament, “EU’s response to the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA),” https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2023/740087/IPOL_IDA(2023)740087_EN.pdf Accessed August 31, 2023
2. Lifehacker, “You Can Get These Electric Stoves for Free From the Government” https://lifehacker.com/you-can-get-these-electric-stoves-for-free-from-the-gov-1849987396 Accessed August 31, 2023
3. Nature Sustainability, “Quantifying the human cost of global warming,” https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-023-01132-6 Accessed August 31, 2023
4. IEA, “Electric Vehicles,” https://www.iea.org/energy-system/transport/electric-vehicles Accessed August 31, 2023