Prologue: Planet Earth is Depending on a Whole Lot of Green Ducklings


Kristian Jacobsen
2 September 2020

The amazing summer read from the Godfather of Sustainability, John Elkington, on the theme of Green Swans speaks to so many aspects of our lives – professionally, our social context and our sense of obligation to deliver on the promise of a greener society for generations to come.

Experem as molorum et, et unt voluptam labo

Green is the New “Black” 

On the back of the “Black Swan” term, Elkington has defined a new term called “Green Swans”. In contradiction to “black” swans (that deliver negative exponentials for existing markets), a green swan delivers positive exponential development within the areas of economic, social and environmental wealth creation. At its worst, it delivers exponential growth on two of the three parameters, whilst keeping the third parameter steady.

The green revolution has started and there’s no doubt that the climate challenge is real! Just like humans seem to have an almost inexhaustible demand for power, with global energy supply expecting to peak in the mid-2030s, we’re also driven by ingenuity resulting in greater energy efficiency regarding how we distribute and consume our supply.

In today’s electricity mix, renewables account for some 25% of generation according to #IRENA – by 2050 renewable energy is predicted by #DNVGL to account for close to 70% of global electricity generation. At the same time, fossil fuel power generation is predicted to be cut in half.

CO2 emissions have never before been so high on society’s agenda. But this also presents a dilemma – How do we satisfy our endless craving for energy, while at the same time make an unprecedented energy transformation to keep within the ‘safe’ 1.5°C limit?

Literally, demand for energy and change is booming – green becomes the new “black”! For our offshore wind industry, this translates to a starring role on the global energy scene in the upcoming decade of transformation.

COVID19 Raises Ambitions

In a pre-COVID19 context, the industry started to float a global offshore wind ambition of 500GW by 2050. The realities in a post-COVID19 context reflect industry’s recognition and advocacy for speed. Or, as stated by the SVP for offshore wind at #Equinor, #Stephen Bull, “The Covid-19 crisis has forced us to take a step back and rethink the future we want to create for the next generation. Going back to ‘normal’ is not an option if we want to build more resilient economies and sustainable development pathways that will benefit all citizens”.

Society, urged by children and the younger generations, are demanding immediate action by their politicians regarding climate change and a green transition. Politicians in many societies are taking the challenge seriously, and as a much-needed reaction to COVID19, they’re attempting to stimulate their economies and job creation through further investments into industries like offshore wind. In addition to creating jobs and stabilizing the economy – they want to achieve this whilst encouraging activities and industries that support the green transition, hence meeting the immediate demands from society. The road is now paved for massive scaling of the industry– not only in the classic markets, but across all of Europe as well as Asia and North America.

Green Swans and the Challenge to the Supply Chain

The bottleneck for realizing the targets set by society and politicians now becomes the supply chain. Locally as well as globally. In other words, attention is now turned to the industry to realize the ambitions of society! We need to quickly grow new supply chain companies and related jobs, especially in new markets. One of the keys to solving the equation is identification of companies with assets from traditional, less favored “black” industries, that can be transformed to provide value into our green industry. In a transformation process, the point of departure must be carefully mapped for these companies to allow for efficient planning and implementation. A bridge between the identified assets (“past”) and the offshore wind market (“future”) must quickly be defined and built.

When “black” companies embark on this transformation process, their managements have made the first essential steps toward breeding “green ducklings” that have the potential to grow into Green Swans – at their best delivering on three key winning parameters of tomorrows’ success stories:

1. Exponential economic wealth creation“Black” companies that not only declare their green transformation strategy, but provide clear guidance to execute on it, often experience an immediate increase in the value of the company

2. Exponential environmental wealth creation – Sustainability leads the way, where the competitiveness of companies is directly assessed and impacted by their ability to reduce CO2 footprints 

3. Exponential social wealth creationSociety demands businesses to look beyond the classic economic definitions of “profit”. Business leaders must assess wealth in a social context, where successful business transformations impact both the company, the well-being of their employees, communities, and society as a whole. 

Green Ducklings Enable the Vision 

In a transformational capacity, Elkington sees the Green Swans “…rise phoenixlike out of the ashes left by Black Swans”. A perfect analogy for today’s context – not only do we need a transformation, but we need it fast!

The point of this summer reflection is therefore simple – If we are to succeed as an industry and deliver on society’s ambitions and expectations, we need to start breeding a lot of green ducklings… a whole lot! The successful business leaders of tomorrow will be the ones who initiate their green transformation now and rise from the ashes of other industries. With 30GW of offshore wind capacity installed since the birth of our industry some 30 years ago, we enter this decade with a very real and truly global “must-win-battle” – to deliver the #OREAC vision of 1,400GW of offshore wind capacity in the next 30 years in support of a 1.5 degree temperature rise limit by 2050!

If you want to learn more on Black and Green Swans, a sincere recommendation is hereby shared to pick up the newly released book “Green Swans: The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism”, by John Elkington.

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