Transformative trends driving development
There are several macrotrends that shape the sustainability agenda and Sweco’s work: new and updated EU legislation, the energy transition and electrification, increased interest in circular economy and investments in social sustainability.
Europe tightens its steering
In 2021, the European Commission presented an action plan for financing sustainable growth that will set the course for climate neutrality by 2050. Measures include an expanded emissions trading system, reduced subsidies for fossil fuels and a system for carbon tariffs. Another major area under development is the EU’s taxonomy for sustainable investments that aims to enable the identification and comparison of environmentally sustainable economic activities.
Renewable energy and electrification
EU’s Renewable Energy Directive was strengthened during 2021, with a more ambitious renewable energy target of 40, rather than 32, per cent by 2030. The binding targets for reduced energy consumption were also tightened, where the public sector is required to renovate buildings with a focus on reduced energy consumption and lower costs.
The phase-out of fossil fuels alongside the electrification of transport and industry is driving investments in renewable energy production, electricity grid expansion and energy storage initiatives.
The industry, property and infrastructure sectors are increasingly interested in circularity due to increasing raw material prices, stricter climate goals and more proactive and ambitious policies. New buildings are designed for future re-use of materials and products, and existing buildings are retrofitted to improve performance and extend the buildings’ life. This creates new business models, partnerships, and the need for large amounts of data from the entire life cycle.
Welfare and social sustainability
The pandemic has increased the focus on social sustainability as urban development is pressured by the political unrest and economic uncertainty. Government investments in the common welfare have explicit sustainability and climate transition requirements, where ” Building Back Better” has influenced European politics and is considered as the way forward after the pandemic.