I grew up in Finland, a country with a greater percentage of the forest than any other country in Europe. As a kid, I loved picking blueberries that I later enjoyed in absolute silence while rowing a boat in one of the countless lakes.

Most of our energy resources were “clean.” While we didn’t have enough sunlight for solar, we did have water and wood that we turned to hydro- and biomass power. Emissions weren’t the first thing we were thinking about.

But over 15 years ago, I moved to the Ruhr area, the largest and most populous urban area in Germany.

I vividly recall landing in a place that was so much denser—full of people, traffic, companies and industries. Quite the opposite of where I was raised.

While recently working on two research reports that explore how to create more sustainable energy sources for industries and consumers, I thought back to this part of my past. Our findings were sometimes sobering, but I was surprised to also discover lots of reasons to be hopeful. Here are three of the top reasons I was more optimistic after working on this crucial topic.

We all care about the planet we share

We’ve long known we would need to confront this challenge to curb climate change, but COVID-19 made global warming a more urgent priority. There were movements from consumers—protests about climate change—that sprung up across Europe in the years before the pandemic. And from an industry perspective, pandemic business stimulation packages provided the kickstart we needed for a greener infrastructure. The movement spread from the street to boardrooms.

Our New Energy Consumer research shows that 60% of consumers have become more aware of climate change and its environmental impact since the start of COVID-19. More than half of the consumers surveyed say they’re likely to invest more in energy efficiency today than before the pandemic.

Industrial decarbonization is a win-win for the planet and the bottom line

Cleaning up emissions doesn’t have to be a trade-off. Decarbonization is good for everyone and the planet.

Our report, “Energizing industry: A European perspective,” found if we do this right and at the proper time, we could have incredible results. By 2030 we should be able to generate more than €200 billion a year through European industrial decarbonization.

With the switch to cleaner power, cleaner fuels and especially to hydrogen, opportunity abounds.

While some industries previously thought cleaner is costlier, our data shows it is now an opportunity for energy producers and industrial energy consumers

Consumer decarbonization is a win-win for businesses and consumers

Our other report, Embrace New Connected Energy Business Models, shows a business profit opportunity of over €8 billion (USD 9.7 billion) a year from consumer electromobility (or eMobility, like electric cars), rooftop solar and local storage by 2030.

It’s not just big industry-leading decarbonization. It’s also consumers like you and me who expect cleaner energy as well as lower-cost mobility and home energy supply. The new business models around eMobility and distributed energy sources offer both: attractive bundles that feature low-risk, low-cost equipment for both homes and businesses to become a part of the transition.

The future is in our hands

Through all of my research, I continued to think about Finland, my country of origin, and Germany, the home of my son and daughter.

For two decades, Germany has been moving towards being more energy independent and has installed over two million solar panels. The country has been leading the way towards clean energy technologies

Whether in my adopted home country of Germany, Europe or the rest of the post-COVID world, if we work together on energy reinvention and do it right, there’s no tradeoff between decarbonization and saving the planet for our children.

Lasse Kari

Senior Principal – Accenture Research, Energy

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