In order to attain the target of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 50%, we need a new industrial revolution. It must take place three times as fast as its precursor 150 years ago and, in contrast to the historical industrial revolution, on a global scale.1 An innovation thrust of heretofore unknown proportions must lead to a wave of global technology deployment. If the OECD countries are to reach their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, namely 25 to 40 per cent until 2020 (compared to 1990) and 80 to 95 per cent until 2050 (base year 2000), and if global emissions are to reach their peak in 2015, this is by no means an Utopian scenario but a necessary prerequisite, and proactive business stands ready to face this challenge.
Today it is commonplace that all technologies necessary for the embankment of climate change are already present, they only need to be employed. From a business point of view, this commonplace perspective lacks insight. Business is not interested in development of technologies as an end in itself, but in developing and selling products. A technology which does not find buyers does not contribute to a company’s survival and is, therefore, a bad product. From an entrepreneur’s point of view, a product is only a good product if it meets the requirements of the market, namely by taking into account purchasing power and users‘ know-how. There always looms a competitor who offers a solution which is better tailored to match the consumer attitude of the respective market segment and which is better adapted to local needs and demands. From international development cooperation we are familiar with the problem of inefficient technology transfer, for example of innovative climate-friendly technologies without taking into account local user habits, local technological maintenance know-how or, bluntly, local purchasing power.
So maybe the technologies for the embankment of climate change are present, but certainly not all the products. There is not only a lack of products which would – employing a martial metaphor – provide the small arms for the ranks of the poor in the battle against climate change. There is also the absence of alternative lifestyles which would constitute the road to prosperity and well-being in the developing countries beyond the paradigmatic development paths of the industrialised countries. Products and lifestyle are intensely interdependent, which is demonstrated by the success of modern entertainment media or communications technology. Therefore, an innovation thrust of unparalleled dimensions is necessary which is able to shape a sustainable development path for traditional lifestyles and, at the same time, creates the products needed for this.
As business – being the provider of the technologies in question – is already and significantly involved with these problems, business should also find and promote a solution which at the same time meets the needs and demands of threshold and developing countries and the original interests of business. To date, business has not responded to this challenge by presenting a business solution. For e5, Eco-Innovation is the core opportunity to create prosperity and jobs in Europe. Here we present some activities and tools for its acceleration.