Sustainable world building: How we can achieve it through partnerships
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Sustainable world building: How we can achieve it through partnerships

Sustainable world building: How we can achieve it through partnerships

Only by deploying efficient solutions can the world address both the climate crisis and the growing demand for energy and other services

The past decade was the hottest in 125,000 years, according to the latest United Nations report on climate change, which calls for serious global action to address a warming planet.

At the same time, the International Energy Agency predicts the world will use 50 per cent more energy by 2050 than it did in 2018.

What’s more, demand is rising not only in the energy sector, but across nearly all aspects of life. Healthcare is expected to see significant increases in demand, with half the world currently lacking access to essential health services, while governments are being mandated to move decisively to deliver more and better care to their citizens.

In aviation, global travel and trade – despite the pandemic – are forecast to drive more airplane takeoffs and landings.

IATA predicts average annual passenger growth over the next 20 years could be as high as 3.6 per cent, while air cargo could grow by 4 per cent a year through 2039, according to Boeing.

In many ways, growing demand in these sectors is a good sign. It means more people around the globe will be gaining access to electricity and healthcare, both of which are essential enablers of economic development and a better quality of life. Likewise, increased aviation activity
signals expanding markets and new business opportunities.

The question, then, is not about tamping down demand growth – although some growth will be moderated through efficiency improvements. Rather, the urgent issue before us is how to enable this growth in a way that is sustainable.

Future flight
In the field of aviation, meeting the rise in both passenger and cargo traffic requires lower-emission aircraft engines, made possible by innovations such as open-fan architectures, hybrid-electric and electric propulsion concepts, advanced thermal management, and modifications
to accommodate new fuels, such as sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) and hydrogen.

GE is working with partner Safran on the RISE programme, which is developing technology that could ultimately lead to an engine that would use 20 per cent less fuel and produce 20 per cent fewer CO2 emissions than the most efficient jet engines today.

Precision health 
Healthcare is another sector where a sustainable approach is required to effectively meet growing need, especially in light of staffing and facility shortages for doctors and other clinicians in communities around the world. The answer is for health agencies and providers to adopt precision healthcare models that make it possible to personalise and improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients more efficiently, powered by digital and AI.

Lower carbon 
The electricity sector is a top priority in most conversations around sustainability in large part because electricity and heat production account for a significant percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions and, as noted above, demand is growing.

This means the world will require a lot of new power, and quickly. The most effective way to achieve this sustainably is through a diverse array of solutions. Build up renewable power, which generates zero emissions; pursue coal-to-gas fuel switching, which cuts emissions; leverage high tech gas turbines that are more efficient than their predecessors or run on mixes containing hydrogen; and install nuclear power, which has the advantage of generating no CO2 while providing reliable, dispatchable baseload power.

Only by deploying a wide range of technologies and solutions can the world address both the climate crisis and the growing demand for energy, healthcare, aviation and other services. Through partnership and focus, we can build a sustainable world that works for all.

Dr Dalya al Muthanna is the president – UAE and global chief of Strategy and Operations at GE International Markets

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