There is a tendency in the area of business sustainability to focus on the activities of “sustainability officers” or similar, to examine measures to improve energy efficiency, reduce waste or increase recycling. This is worthwhile and can yield huge benefits.

However, there is sometimes an understandable underlying assumption that the business, as a whole, has a place, even a right to exist, in a sustainable world. This is not the case. Governments, public and environmental reality recognise no such obligation. The framework in which businesses must operate is a sustainable world – which might be best achieved without certain businesses operating at all. This affects larger companies with huge vested interests in legacy intellectual property, factories, assets, careers and brands, and can prevent them recognising their dwindling future if their very product or service just has no place in a sustainable world of net zero emissions 2050.

It is therefore worthwhile considering what the world of zero emissions might look like in 2050. Then consider the trajectory in various sectors as progress continues to that objective. The timeline can look distant, but its clear many industries have already started the evolutionary or revolutionary path towards net zero. So markets, regulations, customer attitudes will shift way before that. Infrastructure being installed today could still be in place in 10, 20 or 30 years, and will have to increasingly become “net zero” ready.

So we suggest a two strand approach:

  1. do what you can to drive now emissions now and improve your sustainability and
  2. prepare your business to adapt its whole operating model in a timely fashion as we approach 2050.

To help with this process consider how individual lifestyles might change and how your business might fit in a circular economy.