Till Energy Equals Opportunity

How global climate challenges have engendered untapped opportunities for innovation

With over 500 million confirmed cases and 6 million deaths globally, COVID is probably one of the worst pandemics humanities has witnessed post the technology era. But, the virus did something that years of regulations and global efforts failed to do: 5.4% reduction in CO21 and drastic reductions in greenhouse gasses, including NOx that severely damages the ozone layer.

This incites a lot of questions – Why have we been unable to achieve something for so long that needed a pandemic to inadvertently achieve? Despite global regulations and dialogue on regulating greenhouse gasses and working towards reversing global decay, we have been unable to reach consensus. What are we doing wrong? Are we incapable of working towards this goal?

With not much time left for us to achieve the UN 2030 goals, and billions of dollars short [2] in the collective funds decided to be raised by countries to combat climate change, we have a long way to go before our action plan even gets anywhere near our greater vision for sustainability.

Though climate change affects the whole of humanity, the developing and underdeveloped countries are often the first victims of it. Hurricanes, rise in water level, flash floods, droughts, heat waves, forest fires, extinction of species, food crisis, etc., add to the pile of everyday problems that people of the "new" world are facing!

Given the intense cultural diversity, approaching sustainability from a single frontier doesn't make sense anymore. In an era of technological development, we are everything but united in our efforts to battle such crucial problems. The lack of a unified, robust approach will further confuse us and lead to spending resources on solutions that are not effective.

While achieving SDGs is on the agenda of almost every business, we still don't have an institutionalized approach toward climate change and sustainability any more than we have for the business itself!

The Impact of Fossil Fuels

Among the fossil fuels, oil, in particular, is the main culprit for the rising global temperature. Businesses and governments of the past chose to ignore the side effects of spamming oil to drive our economy, our development. The worst part is that we didn't have a "plan B" when things were about to go haywire. So, the pressure is now on businesses – They drive the economy, and oil is an integral part of this economy, so we better find a way before it flips humanity!

And the solution part is tough, not because of the lack of skills or knowledge but due to the lack of collaboration. While developing countries are consuming more oil right now, the per capita consumption in developed countries is way higher.

Businesses need to redefine their vision for sustainability. They have to ensure that the newer vision is ingrained into the core business strategy. We need cross-functional teams within the organization to implement this vision and help break the ice about sustainability among their teams. And like data, the sustainability strategy should consider the end users and how it impacts them.

And all these would be ineffective if there is no participation from the government agencies as well. When you look at the problem of climate change, lack of sustainability, or even a very specific subset of the problem, say increased oil consumption, they are overlooked because they represent untapped opportunities.

In an intensely capitalistic global economy, energy equals opportunity! Opportunities for the people are relatively higher in a developing economy, and developed countries want the people of the developing countries to leap-frog to balance out the global energy consumption [3]. Leapfrogging might actually work. At the very least, it will buy us time to find a more permanent solution. But it will work for these developing countries only if the technology to do so is made affordable.

We all know electric cars are way better than those that run on petrol, but people buy a car that runs on petrol because it's affordable. Green technology should be normalized among the masses before we see any change in the equation, but the developed countries are failing to fill this gap more often than you think. And even in developed countries like the USA, we can see that they haven't broken out [4] of their compulsive need to own a car, and most probably, it's a car that runs on gasoline they're inclined to buy.

So, we have to approach this problem from two ends –

  • Create enough awareness among the public to deal with this problem.
  • Increase participation from governments to make the alternatives available, feasible, and affordable. And all of this, as soon as possible.

Strategies For Private Organizations to Mine for Opportunities

We strongly believe that the private sector has a huge role in furthering the efforts for mitigating climate change. This does not entail curbing fossil fuel consumption or moving to a plant-based menu alone but calls for a concerted effort to apply technology and innovation into areas that can help the cause. This seems like a fair ask given that we live in the age of advanced technology and now have the means to emulate what nature was able to achieve on its own in a matter of 24 months.

Of all the ways private organizations can impact change, innovation is the greatest opportunity. With the vast amounts of data at hand [5], it seems that the outcomes that we seek are at only arm’s length.

We advocate a three-pronged approach for the private sector to contribute towards the goals for 2030 and 2050.

1. Strategy-1

Lay the foundation for a decarbonized economy through rapid tech innovations.

2. Strategy-2

Craft better technologies that increase the efficiency of fossil fuels.

3. Strategy-3

Collaborate with the government and investors to make the means affordable.

Final Thoughts

A resilient society - that's what we should aim for to create a more sustainable future. The scope for businesses to contribute to this vision is higher than for individuals. In future, consumers will be well-informed, and more conscious about their relationships with brands and how they exercise their purchasing power. They would prefer access over ownership, and if any business wants longevity in the market, then they better have a strategy worked out to align with this demand trend. And the best time to start is today because that's how we ensure that it's not too late before we arrive at a solution.


  1. Emission Reductions From Pandemic Had Unexpected Effects on Atmosphere
  2. UN Climate Finance Report
  3. Energy-Poor Countries Face A Special Challenge: Vertical Energy Transitions
  4. The US Refuses to Fall in Love With Electric Cars
  5. Sebestyén, Viktor & Czvetko, Timea & Abonyi, János. (2021). The Applicability of Big Data in Climate Change Research: The Importance of System of Systems Thinking. Frontiers in Environmental Science. 9. 1. 10.3389/fenvs.2021.619092.

About the Author

Madhu Kesavan is the Founder & CEO of W2S Solutions, a globally recognized digital transformation company empowering enterprises and governments in their digital journey. With 20+ years in the IT market, he makes his vision for a sustainable future come true by leveraging technology.

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