17/04/2020

What could our everyday life look like in the 2030s?

It's hard to see what the future has in store for us, but with some imagination, anyone can embark on a little adventure into what lies ahead.

Katri Kauppila
Sustainability and Communications Manager, Finnish Minerals Group

The European Green Deal, a roadmap for making EU’s economy sustainable, is bound to give us EU citizens some food for thought, perhaps even to confuse us. It comes with a range of strange-sounding terms such as zero-carbon, smart mobility and alternative fuel infrastructure.

I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if a lot of people ended up thinking this doesn’t really concern them.

As the EU is aiming at being carbon neutral before 2050, Finland is setting out to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035. At the same time, we want to make sure the European natural environment is preserved.

But what does all this mean to the average Joe or Jane? And what does it entail in terms of our mobility?

Cue imagination

We know that in the coming years Europe's going to be faced with an aging population. Then again, it has been said that in the future people will be able to make greater use of various communication technologies. My future self is going to manage just fine.

On one ordinary day in the future, probably some time in the late 2030s, I will let my grocer’s know that I’m coming over to do some shopping. In response, I will receive meal proposals for the week, prepared by an artificial intelligence based on my lifestyle.

“It seems that you had too little vitamin C last week, so I added some juicy mandarins to your shopping list. They have been produced at a nearby organic farm with solar and wind energy as well as battery technology.”

Well, no harm in that, I suppose, but I’ll skip the drone delivery service today. Instead, I let my electric car know where I'm going to drive and walk to the parking place.

“I quick-charged the battery for the shopping trip. I assumed you wanted to drive through the industrial area again.”

I've had this carbon neutral vehicle for over ten years, but due to the advances in product life and upgradability, I don't need a new one. We agree to switch to autopilot while I take a trip down memory lane.

Wait, how did we get here?

It was spring 2020. The economy of the EU faced serious challenges due to coronavirus pandemic, but fortunately the Green Deal wasn’t abandoned. Today, some 15 years later, the EU still needs to make strides to reach carbon neutrality. However, several Member States, Finland among them, have already achieved it.

Thanks to new technologies, energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy, the EU’s industrial carbon footprint has been significantly reduced. It seems hard to believe that not so long ago we still relied heavily on fossil sources of energy.

Gone are the days when over a quarter of the EU's carbon dioxide emissions came from transport. Zero-emission electric cars and energy-dense, sustainably produced batteries have played an important role in the development. Today, people who have received modern training are working in the field of high technology in battery and electric car industries.

Thanks to electrification of transport and smart mobility alone, we save a pretty penny on health care costs compared to the early 2020s. You see, air pollution has been significantly reduced.

Without raw materials such as minerals, however, this change wouldn’t have been successful. Thanks to R&D work, the recovery of primary raw materials has become more efficient and by-products can be utilised more effectively. In addition, we are increasingly using recycled materials, and the circular economy has created new jobs.

Outside the grocer’s, I pick up my fibre-based shopping bags and then begin my near silent drive home. Once there, my electric car announces that we’re in for some sunny weather. It plans to collect radiation energy with its solar panels and sell it to the grid.

Great opportunities ahead

Well, I don't know if this is really what the future holds, but I feel this is what we can strive for. Of course, the change doesn’t happen automatically but requires innovation, development and investments.

Personally, I believe that the choices each of us makes also make a difference. We shape our future through our preparedness to use technologies, acquire sustainable products and pay attention to their carbon footprint.

Katri Kauppila

Sustainability and Communications Manager