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Quick Takes

The U.S. Would Need to Generate 20-50% More Electricity If All Cars on the Road Were EVs 

Although electric vehicles only account for 10% of U.S. new car sales, governments are preparing for a world that can accommodate more EVs. The nonprofit USAFacts calculated that the U.S. would consume roughly 20-50% more electricity if all cars on the road were EVs.

With more demand on the nation’s grid, the nonpartisan government data organization also looked into the source of the electricity. USAFacts found that more than 60% of the nation’s electricity was generated by fossil fuels. This rate has fallen since 2012, when it accounted for 70%.

USAFacts also pointed out that, “While miles per gallon for conventional vehicles continues to improve over time, EVs remain more efficient, even after considering those advances.”

Access to readily available charging stations has been a barrier to widespread adoption of EVs. By the end of 2023, there will be roughly 130,000 EV charging stations in the U.S. Under the recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the U.S. has set aside $7.5 billion to create a national network of 500,000 charging stations. 

Companies Plan to Boost Sustainability Spending Despite Economic Uncertainty

According to the latest Honeywell Environmental Sustainability Index, a quarterly survey of environmental sustainability (ES) business leaders, most companies say they are increasing sustainability spending over the next 12 months, while only around 2% are planning to reduce it.

At least 20% of respondents said their companies will increase their budgets by at least half or more in a variety of categories: energy evolution and efficiency (20%), emissions reduction (21%), pollution prevention (22%), and circularity and recycling (23%). 

Overall, most organizations are prioritizing energy evolution and efficiency over other ES initiatives, with 38% saying their companies will increase investments by up to 20% from last year and another 30% saying they will increase budgets in the range of 21% to 49%. 

When it comes to setting sustainability goals over the next decade, North American organizations appear to trail most other regions in establishing long-term 2030 ES goals, while Asia Pacific prioritizes sustainability goals more than any other region.

Will China’s COVID Policy Revision Disrupt Global Supply Chains for Critical Technologies?


With China lifting its “zero-COVID” measures late last year, epidemiologists from China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that at least 80% of the population has been infected since December 2022, impacting manufacturing operations significantly. Consequently, production backlogs and an increase in delivery times meant China’s manufacturing PMI score fell to 47% in December 2022, its lowest since the pandemic began. This led to increased supply chain pressure (which had already been rising since September 2022), as reflected on the GSCPI. This trend is likely to continue in the near term.

China’s leading market share and criticality to major technological sectors pose a dire challenge for companies looking to diversify production. Apple, for instance, might take about seven years to move 10% – 20% of its production capacity out of China. The IEA also estimates that the world will almost singularly rely on China to supply key building blocks for solar panel production through 2025. With limited capacity to shift production of key components away from China in the short-term, supply pressures for many products are expected to worsen in 2023. 

With a second surge in cases expected in China’s secondary cities and rural regions after the Lunar New Year holidays, businesses globally need to remain vigilant as supply chain pressures continue to rise and the broader impact of the outbreak remains to be seen.

Longer-Term Risks Dominated by Technological and Environmental Concerns

Reflecting a year of acute global inflationary pressures and geopolitical tensions, respondents to the Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS) ranked economic and societal issues as the most severe risks for 2023. However, environmental and technological risks dominated respondents’ concerns over the longer-term.

“Adverse outcomes of frontier technologies” and “biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse” experienced the largest percentage increases in severity relative to the short-term (35.9% and 21%, respectively). On the other hand, “cost-of-living crisis,” ranked by respondents as the most severe short-term risk, experienced the largest percentage decline over the longer-term (15.5%).

The differences in perceived severity over time horizons likely reflects the attention these issues receive in the short-term; as businesses, governments, and societies look to address the imminent challenges they face, climate and technological issues may get overlooked. But doing so poses threats to their future resilience. 

Crucially, in a time of heightened uncertainty over the long-run trajectories of environmental and technological risks, only businesses and policymakers who proactively manage their exposure to both acute as well as slow-burn challenges can build long-term resilience.

More detailed insights can be found in the 2023 Global Risks Report.

Analysis: Many Africans Unaware of Climate Change Despite Immense Damages

Africa is one of the least-polluting regions, contributing very little to the world’s overall carbon dioxide emissions — compared to the U.S., Europe, India and China. Yet it is disproportionately affected by climate change. 

In its annual Foresight Africa report, the Brookings Institution outlines the role education plays in helping Africa adapt to the climate crisis. 

To illustrate the importance of climate education, the authors point out that while only 30% of Nigerians have heard of climate change, the country lost an estimated $455 billion between 1990 and 2014 as a result of climate change — “equivalent to 80% of the country’s GDP in 2014.” Similarly, in countries like Namibia, Tunisia, Ghana and Zimbabwe, less than half of people have heard of climate change, despite suffering the damages caused from rising temperatures, prolonged drought and severe flooding.

The report offers several recommendations, including investing in a climate-adapted workforce, such as teachers, trainers and school leaders who can “support the readiness of Africa’s education systems to adapt to (and respond to) climate impacts.” It also recommends investing in climate literacy and technical skills to help build a workforce that can support future green jobs.

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