5+ sustainability predictions for 2024

June 9, 2023
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10
min read

Let's face it: sustainability as a field is undergoing rapid transformation. Here at Coolset, we keep an eye on sustainability trends and developments, justso you don't have to.

From a renewable energy boom to new types of sustainability jobs and more, here are our 5 sustainability predictions for 2024.

1. Renewable energy boom

As the world's nations grapple with the existential crisis of climate change, a pivotal shift in the global energy landscape is underway. Global energy leadership is passing from fossil fuels to the hands of renewable energy sources. 

A recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) paints a promising picture for the future of renewable energy, projecting that global renewable energy generation capacity will exceed 4,500 gigawatts in 2024, matching that of fossil fuels‚Äč.

The prime movers of this green revolution are wind and solar power. These leaders of sustainable energy are set to double their global capacity over the next five years, surpassing both gas and coal‚Äč.¬†

The United States is at the forefront of this transition, with renewable energy expected to account for 26% of total electricity generation by 2024, up from 22% in 2022‚Äč‚Äč.

In the same timeframe, wind and solar are forecasted to command more than 40% of the nation's annual electricity generation.

Europe, too, is stepping up its renewable energy game. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, European Union countries have accelerated their renewable energy deployment to lessen their dependence on Russian natural gas imports.

This has led to a 40% increase in renewable capacity additions in the EU for 2023 and 2024 compared to pre-conflict forecasts‚Äč‚Äč.¬†

Moreover, a sweeping change in policy and regulation over the last 18 months has been focused on easing the deployment of large-scale wind and solar PV installations‚Äč.

This rapid deployment is set to save EU electricity consumers an estimated ‚ā¨100bn over 2021-2023, a testament to the economic benefits of embracing renewable energy‚Äč‚Äč.

In the East, China continues to dominate the renewable energy stage, with its contribution to global renewable capacity additions expected to rise in 2023 and 2024.

By 2024, China is set to account for an unprecedented 55% of global annual renewable capacity deployment and nearly 70% of all new offshore wind projects‚Äč.

The United States, despite a challenging 2022, is also preparing for a rebound in renewable capacity additions. Both wind and solar PV are set to see a 40% increase in annual additions in 2023, with solar PV on track for a new record‚Äč.

However, this transition is not without its hurdles. Supply chain issues and policy implementation challenges continue to pose significant obstacles to the rapid expansion of renewable energy‚Äč.

Despite these challenges, the future of renewable energy looks bright. 

The IEA predicts that electricity generation costs from new onshore wind and solar PV plants will drop by 2024, though they may still remain 10-15% above pre-covid levels in most markets outside China.

Regardless, these renewable sources remain the most cost-effective options for new electricity generation in most countries‚Äč.

In the grand theatre of global energy, renewable energy has emerged as the star performer. As the curtains rise on a new era, the next few years will be crucial in determining how the story unfolds. 

But one thing is clear: the momentum towards renewable energy is unstoppable. The world is turning a new leaf in its energy story, one that is green and sustainable, promising a brighter future for all.

2. 50% more sustainability jobs

As the world's increasing focus on sustainability and decarbonization intensifies, a large-scale job market transition is inevitable‚Äč.

A significant surge in the number of employment opportunities in the sustainability sector, already occurring, appears set to amplify further in 2024. 

Businesses, governments, and individuals are continuously shifting their priorities, investing in renewable technologies and adopting greener practices. 

Concurrently, stringent environmental regulations and policies, heightened awareness about climate change, and an increasing appetite for sustainable business practices require a vast workforce skilled in the art and science of sustainability‚Äč.

The pressing need for climate action and decarbonization drives the increasing demand for skills and expertise in the field of sustainability. 

Businesses are in an ever-escalating race to achieve net-zero emissions, demanding a new breed of professionals; carbon accountants, sustainability managers, sustainable procurement managers, and environmental compliance officers, among others‚Äč‚Äč.¬†

Even traditional roles, such as marketing and HR, are being redefined with a green tint.

These career roles don’t just require deep knowledge of sustainable practices, but also an understanding of how these practices are connected to the larger social and economic aspects of society and business.

Moreover, the promise of green technologies and renewable energy sources ‚ÄĒ once termed as futuristic and unproven ‚ÄĒ is now beginning to bear fruit.

Emerging industries such as carbon management software, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen power, and next-generation photovoltaics are stepping into the spotlight, creating an abundance of novel professions‚Äč‚Äč.¬†

As these industries mature and technology becomes increasingly affordable, a broader share of the economy will be able to adopt these practices, leading to even more job creation. 

Consequently, the stage is set for 2024 to witness a dramatic doubling of sustainability jobs, marking a pivotal moment in the greening of the global economy.

To make this prediction more concrete, these are the job titles we expect to become widespread and highly sought-after:

  • Sustainability manager
  • Carbon accountant
  • Sustainable product specialist
  • Environmental compliance officer
  • Sustainable procurement officer
  • Sustainability consultants

Sustainability manager

A sustainability manager is a person who operates at the intersection of business and environmental science, responsible for leading and managing an organization's efforts towards sustainable operations. 

They design, implement, and monitor strategies that promote environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility, where they also often take charge of upcoming regulatory compliance topics such as the EU CSRD. 

Their roles often entail developing effective waste management procedures, energy-efficiency improvements, supply chain optimizations, and sustainable product design, while ensuring regulatory compliance and promoting stakeholder engagement. 

These professionals also guide internal teams and stakeholders in understanding and practicing sustainability policies, which often involves the communication of sustainability reports and educational initiatives.

On the other hand, sustainability managers often spend a significant amount of their time collecting, managing, and reporting on sustainability metrics ‚Äď not only in the environmental context but also in people and governance.

Implementing an efficient and integrated carbon management solution like Coolset can free up time to focus on driving change, rather than being consumed by reporting tasks.

Carbon accountant

A carbon accountant is a person within an organization tasked with quantifying and tracking an organization's carbon emissions. 

They are skilled at measuring carbon footprints, and translating business activities into carbon equivalents using scientific methodologies. Additionally, they implement and oversee data management systems, ensuring accurate and consistent emissions tracking. 

Their roles often involve compliance with environmental regulations and standards, as well as liaising with different departments to incorporate sustainability principles into the organization's operations and strategies.

Most internal carbon accountants monitor the company’s carbon emissions in Excel. For small businesses under 20 employees, this often still works. 

When an organization grows beyond a single location, geography, or the employee number grows towards 50, a carbon accountant’s role often shifts from manual data collection and Excel-based work to overseeing decarbonization efforts from a centralized digital platform.

The demand for these platforms has been rising, and thus the job of a carbon accountant has been transitioning from an accounting-based role to a role focused on driving and tracking strategic decarbonization initiatives.

Sustainable product specialist

A sustainable product specialist is a vital player in the sustainability sector, focusing on the development, marketing, and lifecycle management of environmentally friendly products. 

They are intimately involved in product design and innovation, ensuring that materials and processes used are sustainable, recyclable, and cause minimal environmental harm. 

They also work closely with marketing and sales teams to communicate the sustainable attributes of these products to consumers and stakeholders, and liaise with supply chain managers to ensure that product sourcing aligns with sustainable practices.

Environmental compliance officer

An environmental compliance officer, particularly focusing on imminent EU & UK regulations, is an essential figure in the sustainability sector. 

Their role revolves around ensuring that an organization adheres to both domestic and EU environmental laws and regulations. 

They are responsible for interpreting complex environmental policies, conducting compliance audits, implementing action plans, and addressing non-compliance issues within the organization. 

They also stay ahead of the legislative curve by monitoring and analyzing upcoming regulations, and prepare their organization accordingly to minimize disruption and ensure seamless compliance.

Given the evolving landscape of environmental policy, particularly in the EU with its ambitious Green Deal and other sustainability-driven initiatives such as the EU CSRD in 2025, the demand for environmental compliance officers is poised to surge in 2024. 

Sustainable procurement officer

A sustainable procurement officer is an integral part of the sustainability sector, responsible for ensuring that all procurement activities align with environmental sustainability and social responsibility principles. 

They are involved in sourcing and purchasing goods and services, considering not only cost-effectiveness but also the environmental footprint and social impact of these purchases. 

These professionals analyze the supply chain, evaluate suppliers' sustainability practices, and implement sustainable procurement policies.

They often work closely with suppliers to promote sustainability and with internal stakeholders to incorporate sustainability considerations into their procurement decisions.

Sustainability consultants

While consultancy has been a long-standing profession, sustainability consultants have evolved to meet the pressing demands of today's climate-conscious world. 

As key players in the sustainability sector, these experts guide organizations to align their operations and strategies with environmentally sustainable practices, particularly those associated with carbon management in line with the Paris Agreement. 

They carry out comprehensive environmental impact assessments, focusing on an organization's carbon footprint, and develop tailored strategies to manage, reduce, and neutralize these emissions. 

Their responsibilities often extend to tracking progress, providing sustainability performance reports, and enlightening stakeholders about sustainability efforts.

While the strategic expertise of sustainability consultants provides good guiding principles, the foundation of building a sustainable business lies in the implementation of a robust, data-driven carbon management and monitoring system. 

Such a system provides the empirical basis for decision-making, enabling businesses to devise targeted strategies and make informed decisions about their sustainability initiatives. 

This first step of quantifying and managing carbon emissions is fundamental in setting an organization on the path toward sustainability, and it serves as the groundwork upon which all other sustainable practices and strategies can be built.

3. Acceleration in CSRD preparation efforts

In 2024, we can expect to witness a significant acceleration in companies' efforts towards preparing for the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). 

As businesses become increasingly aware of the urgent need to address environmental challenges and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, they recognize the importance of robust carbon management practices. 

The CSRD, which aims to enhance corporate transparency and accountability in relation to environmental performance, will act as a catalyst for companies to prioritize and accelerate their sustainability initiatives.

One key factor that will drive the acceleration of companies' efforts is the growing pressure from stakeholders. 

Investors, consumers, and employees are demanding greater transparency and accountability from businesses regarding their carbon emissions and overall environmental impact. 

As awareness and concern about climate change continue to rise, companies will face increased scrutiny if they fail to demonstrate their commitment to mitigating their carbon footprint. 

Consequently, proactive organizations will strive to get ahead of the curve by implementing advanced carbon management software to track, measure, and report their emissions accurately.

Moreover, the financial incentives associated with carbon management will further propel companies towards expediting their CSRD preparations. 

By investing in carbon management software and deploying comprehensive environmental reporting systems, businesses can not only meet compliance requirements but also gain a competitive advantage. 

Companies that proactively embrace sustainability will position themselves as responsible corporate citizens and attract environmentally conscious consumers and investors, leading to long-term growth and profitability.

Overall, the convergence of stakeholder pressure, regulatory mandates, and financial incentives will create a powerful catalyst for companies to accelerate their efforts in preparation for the CSRD in 2024. 

By embracing advanced carbon management software and implementing robust environmental reporting frameworks, businesses will not only fulfill their compliance obligations but also unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation. 

The year 2024 will mark a turning point where sustainability becomes a strategic imperative for companies across various industries, driving positive change towards a greener and more sustainable future.

4. Rise in self-sufficient housing

Electricity

In 2024, we anticipate a remarkable rise in self-sufficient housing, not only driven by large housing corporations, but also by consumer demand. One area that we expect to experience substantial growth is electricity self-sufficiency. 

As renewable energy technologies become more accessible and affordable, homeowners will increasingly invest in solar panels and other clean energy solutions. 

This shift towards decentralized power generation will allow individuals to produce their own electricity, reducing their dependence on traditional grid systems and fostering a more sustainable and resilient energy infrastructure.

Gas & heat pumps

Furthermore, we expect 2024 to witness a surge in the adoption of gas and heat pumps for self-sufficient housing. 

As concerns over greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs continue to mount, homeowners will prioritize transitioning away from fossil fuel-based heating systems. 

Gas boilers will be gradually phased out in favor of heat pumps, which offer an efficient and eco-friendly alternative. These pumps harness renewable energy sources, such as geothermal or air, to provide heating and cooling solutions. 

By embracing heat pumps, homeowners will not only reduce their carbon footprint but also achieve greater energy independence and cost savings in the long run.

Bioclimatic architecture

Another interesting aspect of self-sufficient housing that we expect to gain momentum in 2024 is bioclimatic architecture.

With a focus on maximizing energy efficiency and minimizing environmental impact, bioclimatic design principles will shape the construction of homes. 

Bioclimatic architecture integrates natural elements, such as passive solar design, proper insulation, and ventilation strategies, to optimize thermal comfort and minimize energy consumption. 

Homeowners will increasingly recognize the value of building or retrofitting their homes with bioclimatic features, allowing them to harness natural resources effectively and create sustainable living spaces that promote well-being while reducing environmental impact.

Overall, 2024 will mark a significant turning point in the rise of self-sufficient housing.

From generating electricity through renewable energy sources to adopting heat pumps and embracing bioclimatic architecture, homeowners will take proactive steps towards reducing their carbon footprint and achieving greater energy independence. 

As sustainability becomes a key consideration in residential construction and renovation, we can expect to witness a transformative shift towards a more environmentally conscious and resilient built environment. 

The year 2024 will set the stage for a future where self-sufficiency and sustainable living become the norm, contributing to a greener and more sustainable world.

5. Subsidized public transport

In 2024, we expect governments to accelerate their efforts in subsidizing and incentivizing public transport as part of their broader sustainability and climate change mitigation strategies. 

Recognizing the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions and create more liveable cities, we project governments will prioritize investments in public transportation infrastructure and initiatives that make it more accessible and attractive to the public.

Firstly, governments will introduce increased subsidies for public transport services to make them more affordable for commuters. These subsidies may take the form of reduced fares, discounted passes, or even free public transportation in certain regions. 

By making public transport more cost-effective, governments aim to incentivize individuals to shift from private vehicles to buses, trains, trams, and other modes of public transport, thereby reducing traffic congestion, lowering carbon emissions, and relieving financial burdens on individuals.

Secondly, governments will implement innovative incentive programs to encourage the adoption of public transport. 

These programs may include rewards for frequent public transport users, such as loyalty points that can be redeemed for various benefits or discounted parking for commuters who utilize park-and-ride facilities. 

The city of Amsterdam is a great example, demonstrating the effectiveness of its Park & Ride system in alleviating congestion in the city center while offering cleaner transportation options for long-distance commuters.

Additionally, governments may introduce tax incentives or benefits for companies that provide subsidies or incentives for their employees to use public transport. 

Such measures aim to encourage behavioral change by making public transport a more attractive and convenient option compared to private car usage.

Lastly, governments will prioritize investments in public transportation infrastructure and service improvements. This may involve expanding existing networks, increasing the frequency and capacity of public transport vehicles, and enhancing the overall user experience. 

By investing in modern and efficient public transport systems, governments aim to provide reliable, comfortable, and time-efficient alternatives to private vehicles, further encouraging individuals to opt for public transport as their primary mode of transportation.

Overall, in 2024, we expect governments to ramp up their efforts to subsidize and incentivize public transport as a key component of their sustainability and climate change agendas. 

Through increased subsidies, innovative incentive programs, and investments in infrastructure, governments aim to make public transport more accessible, affordable, and attractive to the public. 

These measures will not only help reduce carbon emissions but also alleviate traffic congestion and promote more sustainable and livable cities.

Summary: our sustainability predictions for 2024

The projected trends for 2024 underscore the urgent and collective action needed to create a sustainable and resilient global future. The renewable energy surge, with a capacity equal to fossil fuels, is a testament to the transformative potential of aligned technological policy. 

The marked increase in sustainability jobs shows that the job scene is changing quickly. It's becoming increasingly important for companies to learn about sustainable practices and for job seekers to acquire these skills, even in non-sustainability-related roles.

Additionally, the accelerated efforts towards Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) preparation are indicative of businesses recognizing the reputational and economic benefits of environmental transparency and accountability. 

On the other hand, with the anticipated rise in self-sufficient housing, individuals are becoming integral actors in the sustainability paradigm. 

Finally, the emphasis on subsidized public transport demonstrates the decisive role governments play in molding behavioral change towards sustainability. 

The year 2024 is expected to be a turning point, shifting away from business-as-usual to a new normal where sustainable practices are starting to embed across all sectors and scales of society.

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