2015:EU prime ministers conclude that reforms of unprecedented scope need to be implemented in all EU countries to prevent them from falling into a permanent state of zero growth. Evidence-based policy-making gains prominence and brings politics and research closer together.
2018:People all around Europe invest in large firms that compete over hegemony in sustainable technologies.
2019:Afraid of citizens growing restless, leaders of the Communist party in China announce a new five-year plan which is about investing a great share of China’s massive dollar reserves in the clean-tech sector, into which it has already poured a considerable amount of money over the past 10 years.
2020:People celebrate the launch of the high-speed rail network that has been expanded to cover all routes between Eu- rope’s major cities. These trains start to push airline companies out of the market.
2021:New competitiveness mechanisms are introduced in the Euro zone. Governments support R&D activities to explore eco- logical production methods.
Banks start to provide new energy solu- tions for people to finance the energy retrofitting of their house.
2022:Desertec attracts solar companies all over the world to conquer spots in the Sahara. One of the largest firms in the sector announces that they will start providing transparent information on the production cycle, energy and natural resource consumption on all their products.
2025:A new smart grid solution is an- nounced that connects the UK, Germany and France’s energy consumption. The amount of energy used in households drops significantly.
2028:China, USA and the EU make massive investments in clean-tech that together with drastic price hikes in scarce natural resources bring the prices of ecologically sustainable goods below the prices of their unsustain- able, resource-intensive rivals across all sectors. These three global powers drive sustainable industry.
One of the suburbs in Bilbao was rebuilt with the new- est state-of-the-art energy efficient materials. A friend of mine just moved there.
It is attracting people who previously could not have imagined living in such a location.
2035:New concentrations of R&D and production clusters based around large firms, and closely linked to one another, emerge around Europe. One of the best examples of these new clusters is located in Portugal.
Personal rapid transit rails have revolution- ised the way we travel here in Ulm. There is a two minute walk to the stop where the
pre-routed cart awaits me. I can reach the railway station in six minutes. We just got rid of the family car and our lives are now much easier.
2040:Due to a shift in tax regula- tion, information transparency and public pressure, most of the businesses have turned into social enterprises, which are beneficial to the environment and society.
Copenhagen – Barcelona, 4,5 hours! reads an advertise- ment for high-speed trainline that just opened in May.
2015:In China, there’s an outbreak of problems related to climate change. Natural catastrophes, including drought, eliminate a growing share of crops, caus- ing food prices to rise dramatically.
I just bought an app that allows me to track my consumption. My personal purchase history is my own property now!
2020:There is pressure to revolutionise technologically and ecologically outdated production processes and eliminate expensive and harmful incentives. Economic subsidies (e.g. fuel) will be cut and ecological costs will be internalized in prices.
It’s so cool that the lunch cafe at our work serves food for healthy and cost- efficient diets. It’s the hot- test food trend around and now I don’t have to visit the coolest areas in town to enjoy it. It’ right here, where I work!
2022:The majority of EU member states introduce new cross-cutting road pricing for all roads due to the need to compensate for losses in fuel tax revenues that are attributed to increased vehicle energy efficiency and a shift to electric cars. As a result, people start to prefer short commuting distances, service-rich neighborhoods and good location over large living space.
2024:Possessing half of world’s phosphorus reserves, Morocco starts to regulate sales of this “new gold”. This in turn leads to unforeseen hike in fertilizer prices. Decreased use eventually starts to affect annual crop yields.
2025:The biggest companies in food, construction, ICT, manufacturing and car industries agree on transparency standards on data concerning the energy and natural resource consumption of their production processes. The EU countries, China and USA soon adopt these standards as basis for legislation, which means that practically all production and services have to meet similar transparency standards.
I eat only food that’s hyper- efficient in terms of nutrition levels. Cabbages, lentils and berries are key elements in my diet. It just makes sense!
When I flew to Berlin last month, I had to wait 11 hours until the flight was fully occupied. Regardless, it cost me a months’s salary, as aviation taxation is steeper than ever.
2026:Flying changes dramatically as the major airlines agree on minimum service efficiency standards. Planes can now only fly with over 90% passenger capacity; otherwise they must re-schedule or postpone take-off – unless someone is willing to pay full-price for the vacant seats.
2028:With the help of transparent product data people learn to understand how individual consumer choices in food, housing, mobility build their overall lifestyle.
“My aluminium usage is taxed!” cries out a woman in Denmark as the country prepares for taxation based on natural resource usage. A group of people gets margin- alised from society as they fail to adapt to changing consump- tion patterns.
2039:All around Europe, technological breakthroughs allow information to circulate without barriers. The development of stocks of natural resources can be tracked in real time by everyone. Resource prices increase hand in hand with decreasing stocks, further encouraging the smart use of resources. Thanks to the transparent information, speculation on natural resources in the finance sector decreases.
2049:A global research and knowledge bank creates standards for all national and local level political decision-making. It guarantees a scientific basis for all government action, and can be used to veto any decision that is eco- nomically, ecologically or socially irresponsible.
Personal water accounts make sure that the water I use for showering always stays at around 38 degrees.
2015:The beginning of the financial year started with a remarkable boom in renewa- bles in emerging markets. The vitality of renewables comes largely from a vibrant private sector.
Me and my wife are happy that our 5-year-old daughter got accepted into a specialist maths school for the very talented. This means talent hunters will notice her in no time.
Some of my employees have to spend 40% on travel as long distance commuting and rising gas prices have really hit their budgets. Most of them have already made the move to public transport and many are considering moving closer to our office.
2023:Global digital integration brings product cycles and systems closer together, enabling new innovations to be introduced easily across the globe. This applies to households, too, as specific technological monitoring pro- grammes support individuals in reducing food waste to practically zero.
My cousin Michael bought a farm last week. The global rise of food prices is turning people towards agricultural careers.
2025:Thanks to major leaps in technology, the first cost-effective large-scale upcycling processes are launched in the European markets. New enterprises start to develop around the provision and distribution of resources. They lease products in order to make sure that they retain ownership of resources used in production. Cradle-to-cradle is the fastest growing business and area of research.
2030:Most of the major economic papers acknowledge that cradle-to-cradle is the most efficient production method re- gardless of production sector or materials required. It quickly reaches all parts of production systems. As a significant proportion of usable resources is owned by users, they also become part of these networks.
We lived in the suburbs when I was a child and drove everywhere. I can’t imagine living so far away and having so much space at home now. My parents sold their house seven years ago and now live two blocks from us in a nice one living room apartment.
A new waste mine opened nearby. They collect waste from old landfills and provide job opportunities for the locals.
2039:Production businesses are competing over rights to exploit waste concentrations, e.g. that of the Pacific Ocean. Large production entities enjoy economies of scale and possess resources extensive enough to lead large waste mining processes.
2043:A handful of large firms dominate cradle-to-cradle busi- ness. These super-firms drive sustainable development.
Thee No-Waste World Cup contest has been one of the most popular leisure time activities in recent years.
2047:Access to waste becomes one of the key deter- minants of success for companies. The most valuable resources extracted from waste, e.g. rare earth metals, are among the items that circulate globally.
I returned my old shoes to the shoe store and got my store credit returned by doing so. I can now get brand new shoes and I know that it’s great for the environment as well!
2016:In Denmark and Norway com- prehensive educational reforms aim at improving learning capacity through moving primary education partly out- side the classroom.
“Would you like to learn something new” asks the new computer program I just bought. All around Europe we learn the same things from state-of-the-art software.
2018:A coalition of the 5000 biggest enterprises based in the EU launches an initiative to award joint degrees. Leadership and competitiveness are nur- tured through international ex- ams and other learning events including e.g. competitions, which are seen as the best way to provide students with the skills they need.
2024:Plans to shift the emphasis of welfare programmes gradually towards supporting young people and education passes at an EU summit. On the basis of good examples from Denmark, it is also agreed that basic education should be reformed to include more training on skills for life, e.g. adopt- ing healthy lifestyles.
Through transparent information and increased education, I’m very knowl- edgeable about what is healthy to eat, how much exercise is needed and what are the symptoms of different diseases. Healthcare is more preventative.
2030:Thanks to informatics apps, educational software and online learning networks, people are empowered to make excellent ra- tional choices and their desire for material goods declines. material goods decline.
“...We have carefully pre- pared a sus- tainable trip to China. We are going by boat and are start- ing to learn the language so that we can communicate with the peo- ple who will host us there.”
2034:Austrian children with the most potential to become members of the future champions are identified at an early age and hand-picked for future training, i.e. their skills are improved in learning studios and top schools.
There’s a dental club for those who want to learn and take
care of their teeth In my apartment building. I go there every month to learn self-dentistry.
2037:There’s a re-allocation of non-productive leisure time into an opportunity to learn, includ- ing subconscious learning (e.g. computer games that are linked with the city environ- ment). Schools that hone skills are established, nourishing and nurturing individual skills.
I want to spend my leisure time doing something productive. I go to schools for everyone to hone my skills.
2042:According to the Euro Facts Survey, time spent doing physical exercise among young people and young adults is soaring. Thanks to education reform and its new focus on health promotion, there are very few young people smoking and overall, the health differences between different social groups have diminished.
2050:Over 2/3 of the population in European countries spend at least 10 hours a week of their free time in learning institutions in order to network with their field’s sustainability elite.
My hometown is rather segregated nowadays as Super Champion groups form their own suburbs. They don’t have more mate- rial wealth than others as they’re more aware of sustainability. Instead, they have more political and economic power and better education.