Today, July 29, is Earth Overshoot Day, which means that humanity has already used the budget of nature’s resources for the whole year. Put simply, humanity is using nature 1.75 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate, greatly compromising the future security of resources.
It depends Global Footprint Network, an international organization for sustainable development behind the measurement of the ecological footprint and the footprint calculator that accompanies it so that anyone can calculate their own Overrun day.
In the days leading up to this year’s Earth Overshoot Day, Global Footprint Network launched the beta of their #MoveTheData solutions map, developed by startup Mapotic, to allow anyone to add and champion solutions that can help push back the date of Earth Overshoot Day each year.
Research from the organization and their partner Schneider Electric reveals that if Earth Overshoot Day were to be pushed back by five days per year, humanity would achieve “planet compatibility” by 2050, which means that nature would be used in accordance with its regeneration. Reducing fossil fuel emissions by 50% would move the date to 93 days; and if 100% of existing building and industrial infrastructure were equipped with energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, the date would be moved to at least 21 days.
As the map becomes more populated, it is clear that many government and community efforts are focused on the climate crisis in areas such as cities, energy and food, but there has also been an increase in recent years of the number of startups focused on sustainability. missions and technologies. If, as research from the Global Footprint Network shows, future dates for Earth Overshoot Day can indeed be pushed back, surely the bigger question is: what does it take to make this happen without delay?
The recent rise of deeptech startups means that the release of the most advanced scientific solutions from the lab and to the market is faster and more efficient. For deeptech startups to effectively tackle humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels and resource depletion, however, funding and focus is needed to overcome the so-called “valley of death,” which research efforts require. intensives can struggle to overcome financially without long. long-term investors and an effective go-to-market strategy.
Alistair Owen, Associate Director of Energy at In-depth scientific undertakings, a London-based science business fund and accelerator, says it’s essential for startups to focus deeply on issues that can move the needle, to complement larger efforts by businesses and organizations. governments. “Startups need to focus on unblocking systemic bottlenecks instead of doubling down on incremental technology. For example, increasing the rate of research and development in battery technologies by 1000, rather than spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to scale up manufacturing when billions are really needed. “
Translating complex technologies from the lab to the market, however, is not a cheap endeavor. And in addition to focusing on the right problem at hand, in order to keep costs under control and business operations as streamlined as possible, savvy, forward-looking investors are needed in the private and public sectors.
In the field of clean energy, access to investment at the government level strongly depends on the country in which the startups and companies are based. The first half of 2019 saw global investment in clean energy fall to its lowest level since 2013, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, slipping 14% to $ 117.6 billion. The global fall is the result of dramatic changes in China’s solar and wind subsidy policies, but Europe and the United States have also seen an overall reduction in investment in clean energy. However, some countries seem to be going the other way, with Spanish investments in clean energy tripling in the first semester 2019, and the UK investment up 35%.
Sam Cryer, founder of Durham-based high performance insulation startup Thermulon, says that exciting investor appetites can be a difficult task: “As long as oil and gas is cheap and CO2 is of almost zero value, starting new tech companies in the climate space will be difficult on the market. the business plan. As deep-science companies are often capital-intensive, more patient and higher-risk capital would greatly increase the chances of a business start-up. “
Cryer added that the collaboration between scientists, startups and large companies to keep pace with climate change: “We don’t have time to try to go it alone and, therefore, foster multiple collaborations on the same one. project can massively increase the speed to market. To this end, we need new mechanisms so that large companies and startups can quickly prototype together. “
Beyond energy and construction infrastructure efforts, the agricultural industry is one of the main contributors to the climate crisis, with its widespread emissions, deforestation and inefficient land management. Food technology startups, however, are attracting a lot of interest and investment not only because of their more sustainable approaches, but also because of their business opportunities around the world. In 2018, a AgFunder Report found that more than $ 6.9 billion had been invested in upstream technologies such as biotechnology, agricultural robotics, innovative foods, bioenergy and biomaterials, an increase of almost 45% since 2017 .
If Earth Overshoot Day is to move back next year, the year after and beyond, the potential of deeptech startups in energy, food, cities and materials must be achieved through a combination of funding and business-to-research collaboration. If science is to emerge from the lab at a rate fast enough to have an effect on the climate crisis, and indeed at a rate fast enough to avert future resource security disasters, investors, governments and businesses must see today – July 29, 2019 – as an opportunity for positive change, as well as a stark reminder of humanity’s effect on planet Earth.