7 potentially game-changing stories to follow in 2024

Trends and developments that could play a role in creating our awesome future in the years to come.

7 potentially game-changing stories to follow in 2024
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Aaaaaand here we are in February! 

Unsurprisingly, it looks like 2024 is going to be another year of milestones both ominous and hopeful – shattered temperature records and devastating extreme weather events juxtaposed with unprecedented advancement in technology and sustainability efforts that could help us create a greener world that works for all of us. 

As horrifying as it is to witness the dire milestones – the communities burnt,  drowned, and demolished, the species lost and ecosystems destroyed, not to mention the astronomical financial costs of dealing with climate change – it’s more important than ever for us to also pay attention to the positive developments that show we ARE in fact making progress toward building a green energy sustainable future

Here are seven of the potentially game-changing stories in green tech and sustainability that merit our attention in the year ahead: 

1. The global transition to renewable energy

Global renewable energy capacity grew by 50% to 510 GW in 2023 – its fastest rate of expansion in two decades. Because of this unprecedented growth, last fall the International Energy Agency reported that for the first time ever, we have a real chance of seeing fossil fuel use peak and global governments meet the UN COP28 goal of tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030. Will the rate of transition to renewables continue to accelerate in 2024? Here’s hoping.    

2. Cities becoming more climate-change resistant

Around the world, cities are reclaiming space from cars, restoring natural habitats, replacing concrete with green space and becoming “sponge cities” to help combat heat islands, flooding, and other anticipated impacts of climate change. Cities are also passing legislation to decarbonize their transportation and infrastructure and achieve their net-zero carbon goals. By seeing what cities around the world are doing and observing the outcomes, we can gain insight on how to make our own communities more resilient and prepared for the future. 

3. Batteries becoming cheaper, more efficient & sustainable

Batteries will almost certainly continue to be a big news story in the year ahead, both in terms of EV batteries and as storage for renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind. Will 2024 be the year we see the first solid-state batteries or cobalt-free batteries for EVs? Will sodium batteries take off as a low-cost solution for short-distance urban commuter vehicles? Will we see any growth in battery recycling? And will US energy storage capacity nearly double this year, as predicted by the US Energy Information Administration? Let’s find out!  

4. Regenerative agriculture

Agriculture is responsible for about 12% of all global emissions and conventional farming methods that rely on monoculture crops and petrochemical fertilizer and pesticide are destroying our soil and poisoning our ecosystems

That’s why it’s encouraging to see that more farmers and food companies are committing to regenerative agriculture and permaculture farming practices that enrich rather than deplete the soil and environment while still yielding abundant crops. Here’s hoping we see more progress in this direction in 2024. 

5. The evolution of "plastic"

As countries race to meet their decarbonization goals, more businesses and industries will be searching for biodegradable alternatives to the plastic that is so ubiquitous in our world. Will we see more packaging made out of seaweed or mycelium? Will researchers and companies figure out better ways to deal with the plastic that’s already in our environment? And what will happen during the UNEP International Plastics Treaty talks taking place in Ottawa this April? Shifting the world away from plastic is going to be challenging, especially given the massive pushback from powerful industries. The more attention we pay to it and the more noise we make about it, the better. 

6. Green concrete & steel

Okay, this may be two stories in one – but they’re both critical to decarbonizing the “bones” of modern society, at least in terms of our infrastructure. Last year there was a lot of hubbub about potential progress being made in the effort to create low-carbon concrete and steel. As concrete accounts for 8% of emissions and steel production is responsible for 7% of emissions worldwide, this would be a huge boon to the planet if true. Let’s see how these stories develop in the months ahead.

7. Sustainability laws & legislation

It seems realistic to assume that many companies will continue to resist decarbonizing their systems and supply chains if it means losing a dime in profits. That’s why we need  governments at all levels to enact sensible, future-focused legislation that requires organizations to do the right thing. Countries all over the world have already passed legislation requiring accurate emissions reporting, phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels, setting deadlines for the sale of fossil fuel cars, and mandating higher sustainability standards for products. Will 2024 see more of the same? 

So those are seven green tech and sustainability trends that I plan to keep eye on this year. How about you? Are there any particular stories or trends you’re interested in following or learning more about? Drop me a line at erin@ourawesomefuture.net and let me know! 

(Also let me know if you find it useful when I list the links in an article like this below as it takes a fair amount of time to do so and I only want to do it if it's helpful. 🙏✌️)


Washington Post: “The World Is Already Experiencing Record Heat - In January"
Honolulu Civil Beat: “The Maui Fires in Photos”
CNN: “Ten countries and territories saw severe flooding in just 12 days. Is this the future of climate change?” 
The Weather Channel: “The Mexican Town Swallowed By Climate Change”
Mashable: “These Animals Went Extinct in 2023”
NASA: “Tracking Canada’s Extreme 2023 Fire Season” 
World Economic Forum: “Climate Change is Costing the World $16 Million Per Hour” 
Atmos: “Your 2023 Climate Wins, Wrapped” 
Earth Day: “7 Victories for Our Planet in 2023” 
BBC: “9 Breakthroughs for Climate and Nature in 2023 You May Have Missed” Forbes: “2023: A Year of Pivotal Climate and Clean Energy Wins” 
Greenpeace: “Inspiring Environmental Victories of 2023” 
The Guardian: “World’s Renewable Energy Capacity Grew at Record Pace in 2023” 
International Energy Agency: “Massive expansion of renewable power opens door to achieving global tripling goal set at COP28”
UN Climate Change: “COP28 Agreement Signals “Beginning of the End” of the Fossil Fuel Era
International Energy Agency: “Tripling renewable power capacity by 2030 is vital to keep the 1.5°C goal within reach”
The Progress Playbook: “How these five cities are reclaiming public spaces from cars”
C40 Cities: “Greening the grey: Mayors Khan, Plante unveil C40 ‘rewilding’ guide for cities in London”
UNEP: “On World Cities Day, UNEP announces 19 cities to restore nature’s rightful place in urban areas”
McLeans: “Investing in “sponge cities” can mitigate the toll of climate change”
Reuters: “The Floor Is Lava: How concrete, asphalt and urban heat islands add to the misery of heat waves” 
Natural Resources Defence Council: “Flooding and Climate Change: Everything You Need to Know”
KlimaOslo: “Oslo’s New Climate Strategy” 
UNFCC: “City of Paris: Carbon Neutral by 2050 for a Fair, Inclusive and Resilient Transition”
Zero Energy Project: “Leading the Way: Cities on a Path to Zero” 
European Transport Safety Council: “Amsterdam follows Paris, Brussels and Madrid with default 30 km/h limits”
Scientific American: “Cool Transportation Hacks Cities Are Using to Fight Climate Change” 
C40 Cities: “Six Impactful Actions Cities Can Take to Reduce Transportation Emissions” 
Why Energy Efficiency: “Roadmap for Decarbonizing Cities” 
Brookings.edu: “How US Cities Are Finding Creative Ways to Fund Climate Change Progress”
Carbon Neutral Cities: Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance Members
Engineering.com: “What to Expect from Batteries in 2024
International Energy Agency: “Grid-Scale Storage”
Reuters: “Solid state: EV giants chase 'holy grail' of batteries”
MIT News: “Cobalt-Free Batteries Could Power Future Cars” 
Engadget: “The First EV with a Lithium-Free Sodium Battery Hits the Road in Janary” 
National Renewable Energy Laboratory: “Battery Recycling Supply Chain Analysis”
US Energy Information Association: U.S. battery storage capacity expected to nearly double in 2024  
STATISTA: Agricultural Emissions Worldwide
Food Revolution: “Monocropping: A Disastrous Agricultural System”
IntechOpen: “Excessive and Disproportionate Use of Chemicals Cause Soil Contamination and Nutritional Stress”
Natural Resource Defence Council: “Industrial Agricultual Pollution 101” 
Manitoba Co-Operator: “Making regenerative ag work in potato production”
EcoTextile News: “Regenerative programme launched in Tanzania”
The Guardian: “This Way of Farming is Really Sexy: The Rise of Regenerative Agriculture” 
Fast Company: “Why Regenerative Farming Is Taking Hold in Red America” 
Unilever: “Impact results from Unilever’s first set of regenerative agriculture projects”
ESG Today: “Walmart, General Mills Launch 600,000 Acre Regenerative Agriculture Partnership”
World Economic Forum: “Farming Leaders Scale Up Adoption of Sustainable Agriculture”
Phys.Org: “Planet-friendly farming takes root in drought-hit Tunisia”
Modern Farmer: “Permaculture: You’ve Heard of It, But What the Heck Is It?”
India Today: How urban Indians are finding purpose in permaculture
IMD: “The untold potential of agriculture for soil and human health”
UN Climate Action: “For a livable climate: Net-zero commitments must be backed by credible action” 
University of Waterloo: "Goodbye, soggy paper straws and hello, true biodegradable plastic!"
Our World in Data: Plastic Pollution
Good Good Good: “This California startup is replacing plastic bags with seaweed-based packaging
Cosmetics Business: “Why mushroom packaging is finally poised to take over
Earth.Org: “10 Scientific Solutions to Plastic Pollution
UNEP: Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution
UNEP: “Turning off the Tap: How the world can end plastic pollution and create a circular economy
CNBC: “How the fossil fuel industry is pushing plastics on the world
Grist: “The petrochemical industry is convincing states to deregulate plastic incineration
Washington Post: “Cement warms the planet. This green version just got a key nod of approval
MIT Climate Portal: “2023 Climate Tech Companies to Watch: H2 Green Steel and its steel made with renewable energy
The Cool Down: New 'green concrete' could change the construction industry: 'We're on the cusp of a second industrial revolution'
Canary Media: “World’s first major green steel project locks down $5B in funding”
Nature: "Concrete Needs to Lose Its Colossal Carbon Footprint”
EU Joint Research Centre: EU climate targets: how to decarbonise the steel industry” 
Earth.Org: “10 Companies Called Out For Greenwashing
Political Economy Research Institute: Greenhouse 100 Polluters Index 
London School of Economics: What is climate change legislation? - Grantham Research Institute on climate change and the environment
TIME: “Why Europe's New Climate Rules Matter to American Companies

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