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The European Green Deal - Europe's Moonshot?

The European Green Deal, announced in December 2019 by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, outlines the plan on how Europe aims to become the first climate-neutral (or net-zero) continent by 2050. The aim is for European Climate Law to make what is a political commitment (and therefore perhaps not exactly set in stone) into a legal obligation for European countries.

Now - the science is very clear: We need to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 to limit the global temperature average increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. This will require nothing less than the transformation of every sector of the economy, with breakthrough innovation over the next two decades a prerequisite for success.

Meliora CEO Tatsiana ZaretskayaMeliora CEO Tatsiana Zaretskay in a roundtable discussion at the European Digital Assembly on delivering the green and digital transition in Europe together with Petr Očko (Deputy Minister for Industry and Trade, Czechia), Laure de La Raudiere (President of ARCEP- France's Electronic Communications, Postal and Print Media Regulatory Authority), Michel Paulin (CEO at OVHcloud), and Diana URGE-VORSATZ (Professor at the Central European University and Vice-chair, IPCC’s Working Group III).

Companies who overcome their hesitancy and embrace the key elements of an actionable climate innovation strategy will access lucrative new markets and stay relevant and resilient. Such a strategy will require not only technological innovation, but new business models, new markets, and above all new mindsets: Companies need to think of themselves not just as sources of emissions, but as providers of solutions in a low-carbon future.

Climate action has already become an opportunity and a revenue source, rather than a risk and a financial burden.

Some technologies have the potential to create ecosystems that transcend sectors and extend beyond core company operations. The most prominent and promising example of this is negative emissions technologies. This area contains some of the most promising developments since the goal is not merely to reduce but to actively remove emissions from the atmosphere, suggesting a future where we go beyond damage limitation and move towards reparation.

Some of the solutions we need will come in the form of radical reimaginings of what we already have. We might think of these along the lines of ‘moonshots’ — speculative projects that seek to solve massive problems with ambitious solutions, with a time horizon beyond immediate success.

X, Google’s dedicated moonshot innovation lab, defines a moonshot as “10x impact on the world’s most intractable problems, not just 10% improvement.” Often, moonshots feel like something out of science fiction — until the point at which they suddenly become very real, creating brand new markets and value through solutions that previously seemed impossible.

Americas-moonshotAmerica's first moonshot paid off. What's the future of the Green Deal and by extension, Europe and the world?

The term ‘moonshot’ came about to describe President John F. Kennedy’s commitment that humankind should go to the moon within a decade. Today, companies need to channel ambition on a similar scale to address climate change.

While achieving concrete and ambitious goals will be key to addressing the challenge, a first step should be for companies to set their goal and use it to frame their purpose and strategy, redefine their market, and facilitate ecosystem collaboration and strategy. Through this, they can play a part in our generation’s version of the moon landing, unlocking value in the decarbonization economy in the process.