Infrastructure sector on course for growth
Infrastructure is the central nervous system of the economy. As long as stimuli and demands are processed smoothly, its existence is taken for granted. However, if traffic flows stall, supply chains are interrupted, or the power grid or energy supply fails, the entire system quickly collapses.
To meet the challenges of the future, infrastructure must be expanded globally. Climate protection, demographic change, urbanisation and digitalisation - these are four major megatrends and task areas of economic transformation. They require new infrastructure investments worth billions.
State investments are not enough here; private funds must also be mobilised on a large scale. So-called transformative technologies are needed to shape the future with sustainable infrastructure.
Australia to USA: Climate targets that require massive investments
Climate targets must be set globally to achieve the necessary effects. An overview of the global targets helps to realistically assess the massive restructuring and investment volumes.
The North American country has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030. By 2050, Canada wants to have achieved climate neutrality (net zero emissions). With the Climate Change Act of June 2021, climate neutrality has been enshrined in law for the first time in Canada.
The European emissions trading programme contains all the measures with which the EU member states want to achieve their climate targets: The EU's CO2 emissions must fall by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990. By 2050, Europe is to become greenhouse gas neutral. The expansion of solar and wind energy is to be massively accelerated throughout the EU.
In 2022, the first climate protection law in Australia's history was passed. The key point is to reduce CO2 emissions by 43 % by 2030 compared to 2005. Australia also wants to become completely emission-free by 2050. The law also stipulates that the Climate Change Minister will submit an annual report on what progress has been made towards climate neutrality.
The United Kingdom wants to set a good example in climate protection. It has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% below 1990 levels by 2030. The UK government's central climate policy goal is to gradually reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.
The country, which is responsible for more than a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, has set a target to reduce emissions intensity by 60-65 % below 2005 levels by 2030. Beijing's climate protection plans continue to envisage achieving climate neutrality by 2060 at the latest.
India has set a target to reduce emission intensity by 33-35% below 2005 levels by 2030. To achieve this target, India aims to triple its renewable energy generation by 2030. India aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2070, 20 years later than most other countries.
The United States aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52 % below 2005 levels by 2030. As part of its National Climate Strategy, the USA has also committed to being climate neutral by 2050. US electricity generation is to operate in a climate-neutral manner as early as 2035.
To date, 300 billion US dollars have been invested annually in renewable energies worldwide in order to achieve these goals. However, this sum does not do justice to the investments that are actually needed:
Great Transformation: Investing beyond renewables
Renewable energy and grid infrastructures are needed worldwide. In addition, new mobility concepts are necessary that create a charging infrastructure and transport routes that are as sustainable as possible. At the same time, investments in the structural modernisation of cities and in water and waste management as well as in hospitals are indispensable in order to provide for a growing and also ageing population in functioning urban structures. In recent years, the need for investment in digital infrastructure has also increased significantly.
Important trends in which infrastructure plays a central role
More and more companies and governments have pledged to be CO2 neutral by 2050. This brings challenges and opportunities, such as fluctuations in power generation and the need for a robust grid infrastructure.
The electrification of the transport sector is an important pillar of the energy transition. In addition to infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs), significant investments are also needed for environmentally friendly rail and shipping.
Boosted by urban growth and socio-demographic change, urban infrastructure needs to be expanded. This includes investments in water and waste management, hospitals, schools, bridges and roads.
Accelerated by the pandemic, the need for investment in digital infrastructure has increased significantly to meet the growing demand for data. This creates opportunities for investment in regional networks, data centres and telecom towers, among other sub-sectors.
Water march - globally impossible without infrastructure
Water is nutrition, the basis for hygiene, an economic good, a productivity factor - and an excellent indicator of the need for a functioning infrastructure.
Providing people with clean drinking water is playing an increasingly important role worldwide. But even in many industrialised nations, too little has been invested in treatment plants and pipelines in recent decades. Here, too, there was a backlog of investment. In March 2023, an action plan with around 700 voluntary commitments was approved at the UN Water Conference in New York.
Water, ecosystem and climate strategies are to be interlinked to reduce greenhouse gases - from resilient infrastructure, water pipes and wastewater treatment plans to an early warning system before natural disasters. Johannes Cullmann, Vice-President for Water and President of Science at the UN General Assembly, stated that in the future, around 750 billion US dollars will be invested in the protection of the world's water resources.
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