The 2020s may be remembered as the inflection point

My daughter told me recently she is looking at buying a Tesla. My daughter lives in Detroit. Motor City. The last time she came out to California to visit, she and her husband gawked at Teslas like they were alien spaceships. “I can’t believe they don’t have motors,” she said.

In fact, they do. They’re about the size of a watermelon.

Thus, I join the many googly-eyed op-ed writers who were stunned by GM CEO Mary Barra’s decision to steer the world’s largest automaker toward a goal of no longer making fossil fuel-powered cars, trucks and SUVs by 2035—and becoming carbon neutral by 2040. Phrases like “auto revolution” and “transform the economy” exploded across our screens and pages like fireworks.

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But then I would add several other developments which, in toto, are beginning to make it seem as if we are truly riding the wild winds of change, that the 2020s may be looked back upon as the inflection point marking the beginning of the end of the era powered by coal, oil and gas…and the end of the beginning of something brand new, a world in which the climate is healthier and so we may be, too.

The Biden Administration’s rejoining the Paris Agreement, elevating a special envoy for climate change to cabinet level and pledge to point the entire nation toward carbon neutrality by 2050 are all positive indicators. No less than Bill McKibben, American environmentalist and author who has written extensively on global warming, tweeted out, “So Biden’s climate/energy/environment team is mostly complete, and on balance there’s never been anything like it in U.S. history.”

But we all know politics are politics, and not all promises can, or will, be kept. Even more persuasive is a recent U.S. Department of Energy study showing the cost of generating power through wind turbines is now cheaper than buying natural gas. And according to World Economic Forum (WEF), installing solar panels costs less than investing in any fossil fuel.

Follow the money, so the saying goes. Big energy companies are already working to reinvent themselves as alternative energy providers.

So, what will our world look like in 2030? Nine short years from now, says WEF, we’ll see…

Mobility: We will get around in shared electric cars that optimize routes to reduce consumption.

Food: We will eat more fruits and vegetables, less meat, fish and dairy products. (Read more: Essential F&B: Embrace the Alternative)

Consumption: Single-use plastics will have disappeared and buying sustainable products in bulk will have increased.

Urban planning: We will live in houses powered by renewable energy and urban vegetable gardens will be common on rooftops and in spare space on the streets.

Agriculture: The reduction in livestock farming will have a positive effect on reforestation and will free up more land for cultivation of food.

It took more than two decades, but it could be the 21st century is finally entering the future.

Meetings in 2030

Enhanced hygiene and air filtration as well as overall health protocols for meetings will remain as permanent reminders of Covid-19, say many experts. Especially if other viruses rampage in its wake.

F2F and virtual will continue to partner to expand audience reach and be inclusive.

Augmented reality, finally on the near horizon, promises to make the virtual meeting experience almost like being there. “Hologram-conferencing may be a reality by 2030…but offices will still be needed for the face-to-face meetings and decision-making,” opines JLL, a global real estate services company.

Will big trade shows still exist? Selby’s, an Australian maker of exhibit booths is not agnostic on this question, but here’s the argument: “An electric vehicle conference such as EV Tech Expo would consist of companies in charging infrastructure, battery materials, automotive distributors, battery software companies, power generation companies, automotive companies, etc. You can’t just Google “electric vehicles companies” and get results of a similar quality because there are so many different companies in the electric vehicle supply chain. Secondly, in a trade show, you can walk up to an exhibitor and get a quick company summary and a product demo. Lastly, trade shows are where big deals are made.”

In short, CES in Las Vegas and the other megashows aren’t going away in this decade. There just might be more robots in attendance.