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Climate & technology

How the world might look in 2030

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02 April 2020

2030 is the new 2000: Anyone making big plans for the future is currently forging them for 2030. #explore takes a look at what states, companies and start-ups hope to set in motion in the next ten years to make our world a better place.

Europe is going greener

By 2030, greenhouse gas emissions in the EU are expected to decrease by at least 40 percent compared to 1990. At least one-third of the EU’s energy should by then be being generated from wind, sun and water, and the bloc’s target is to achieve an increase in energy efficiency of at least 32.5 %. Norway has gone so far as to declare its intention to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 55 percent. But the award for the most ambitious climate-related target goes to Denmark: it aspires to scale back its emissions by 70 percent by 2030 - without resorting to nuclear power to plug the gaps. According to the calculations of Danish energy association Dansk Energi, Denmark’s electricity production should be 100 percent green by 2028. By 2030, the ambition is to generate nine percent more electricity than the country needs for its own internal consumption.

Tailwind for the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom intends to significantly expand its offshore wind farms by 2030. The aim by then is for more than 30 percent of the UK’s energy needs to be covered by the wind turbines which are sprouting up around its coasts. Assuming that this project is realised, information provided by the British government claims that some 70 percent of British electricity will then be coming from low-carbon sources.

Carbon-neutral companies

Companies like Siemens, Infineon and the Sky group intend to be carbon-neutral by 2030. Microsoft plans to be CO2-negative by the same date: in other words, to be removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it emits. The plan goes even further than this: by 2050, the tech giant intends to have removed all the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that it has emitted, either directly or as a result of its energy consumption, since its launch in 1975.

Electric filling stations for millions

The German government has announced its intention to open a million public charging points for electric cars by 2030. The stated aim of federal transport minister Andreas Scheuer is to have ten million electric cars and 500,000 electric commercial vehicles on the country’s roads by then. The current tally is some 137,000 purely electric cars and a little over 100,000 plug-in hybrids which can be charged up at 24,000 public charging points. In other words, there’s still a long way to go, but the German government is keen to ease the transition with measures including the current increase in the environmental bonus and other funding measures. In any case, the trend is already evident: the number of charging stations increased by 50 percent in 2019, and registrations of purely electric buses and cars have increased in each case by sixty percent. Automotive experts and sector associations predict that alternative propulsion systems will really take off in Germany, as in the rest of Europe, starting this year – in part because carmakers are eager to avoid the severe financial penalties for exceeding EU fleet limits that came into force this year.

The first zero-emission ships will put to sea

Aircraft, diesel cars and coal-fired power stations are well known to be climate villains. Shipping, on the other hand, has mostly been ignored in the ecological debate - even though it is responsible for some two percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Something the “Getting to Zero Coalition” is determined to change. This coalition of over 50 companies is planning to launch the first zero emission vessels by 2030. This would also, for example, reduce BMW’s carbon footprint significantly. After all, up to 50 percent of the carmaker’s transport chain emissions are currently caused by shipping.

Flying taxis will take off

In a study, management consultants Roland Berger calculate that a total of 12,000 flying taxis will be plying aerial routes across the world by 2030. By 2050 at the latest, nearly 100,000 electric aircraft should be shuttling passengers over and between cities. The study authors are convinced that short and medium journey times will fall significantly, not just in the US and South-East Asia but also in German cities and regions such as the Ruhr, the Rhine-Main region and between Munich, Augsburg and Ingolstadt. Aviation experts, however, have sounded a note of caution to the effect that these flying taxis will first need to overcome various technical and regulatory obstacles.

Robots will take our jobs or help us out

The experts from Oxford Economics anticipate that 20 million factory jobs around the world will be done by robots instead of people by 2030. Automation will have the strongest impact on those regions whose inhabitants have relatively low levels of education and income. The AQUIAS research project has a more optimistic take on future collaboration between people and robots. According to the researchers, collaborative robots will, for instance, be coming to the aid of severely disabled production staff in 2030. Most employees in Germany would then find working with production robots interesting and diverting.

Every tenth car will be self-driving

Every tenth car will be self-driving by 2030, the analysts from Statista predict. However, private ownership of autonomous vehicles will, in the view of the statistics portal, be the exception rather than the rule. The lion’s share of self-driving cars will instead be accounted for by “robotaxis” which will ferry passengers to their destinations using an app and in return for payment. According to Statista, the growth of these road-going robots will depend in particular on consumer acceptance rather than just the manufacturers’ production capacity. Surveys reveal that just 18 percent of Germans would feel safe in a self-driving car. It is for this and other reasons that the Prognos-Institut assumes that true self-driving cars will not take to the road in any great number until 2040 at the earliest.