Liontrust 20 Years of Sustainable Investing 03.2021 - Flipbook - Page 14
The world in 2041
The world may have been transformed over the past 20 years but the pace of change is accelerating.
The Liontrust Sustainable Investment team discuss what the world may look like in the future.
Cities – Peter Michaelis
Transport – Simon Clements
• The trend of increasing urbanisation will continue, with more than
two-thirds of the global population likely to be city dwellers by the
early 2040s. Nearly all this growth will occur in Asia and Africa.
• We expect electric vehicles to be the dominant form of passenger
transport and the combustion engine an antique as quiet, clean
cities become the norm. Cars will be charged from solar panels
connected to houses and battery technology will have developed
so that refuelling is a thing of the past.
• Current cities emit 50% to 60% of global greenhouse gases and will
have to invest in retrofitting and adapting existing infrastructure to
mitigate environmental impacts and adapt to the changing climate.
• Cities at their best enable a high quality of life with low impacts.
This requires infrastructure investment, community planning, water
management and efficient mass transport, with thermally efficient
buildings essential. Widespread digital connectivity, combined with
strong local communities, also reduces the need for travel.
• Buildings and infrastructure will be designed for low life-cycle impact
using Building Information Modeling (BIM) software that minimises
the impact of construction, use and demolition/recycling. Cities will
also be increasingly designed with biodiversity in mind, such as
Milan’s ‘treescrapers’, for example, which are two residential tower
blocks built in 2014 that are covered in 800 trees, 4,500 shrubs
and 15,000 plants.
Healthcare – Laurie Don
• We will continue to see significant advances across areas such
as gene editing and DNA sequencing, and these will revolutionise
how we think about treatment.
• The traditional model has a large element of trial and error, with
people seeking help when they feel ill and hoping whatever drug or
procedure prescribed is effective – but this intervention often proves
too late. We are moving towards a more personalised system
where we can understand how someone’s genetic make-up makes
them vulnerable to diseases.
• This paves the way for early diagnostics and pre-emptive treatment,
testing babies before birth and adults early and on an ongoing
basis. We expect to see the price of sequencing the genome
continue to fall, equipment for these tests become more prevalent
(diagnostics platforms are now more commonly deployed) and
testing more convenient. Liquid biopsy, for example, allows cancer
detection from blood rather than having to take a tissue sample,
removing pain and inconvenience from the process.
• We also expect to see fewer chronic treatments (taking a pill every
day) and more one-off via gene editing or therapies. Diagnostic
progress allows greater understanding of diseases and more
personalised treatment: ‘one and done’ correction of genes that
cause problems (at source), ongoing testing to identify and treat
diseases earlier and more exciting and targeted vaccines. mRNA
technologies can help to treat cancer, for example, moving beyond
the more traditional vaccinated areas.
14 - Liontrust: 20 Years of Sustainable Investing
• Development of electric passenger planes is also beginning to be
adopted. Their cost advantage (fuel, which is a third of the cost
of flying, is removed) will lead to smaller aircraft flying regional
routes more regularly, and technology will replace long queues to
check in at airports. This will make flying a more pleasurable and
• High-speed trains will also provide competition for regional travel,
with their relative comfort and convenience combined with the fact
that technological advances will ensure you can get from London
to Paris in under an hour.
• Autonomous vehicles will be the norm for deliveries of food and
parcels, as well as taxis and other forms of transportation. Driving
your own car will never be fully autonomous, with the safety system
taking control of braking and moving lanes/turning.
• Overall, we predict road accidents will be very rare, air quality
substantially improved and transportation a much more pleasurable
Energy – Mike Appleby
• The electricity we consume will primarily come from renewable
sources and be delivered through a hugely upgraded and more
intelligent grid that includes demand side management.
• Many things that currently consume fossil fuels will have switched
to be powered by electricity, such as electric vehicles and heat
pumps to heat and cool buildings.
• The proportion of cars that run on the internal combustion engine
will be much smaller than now and falling away to antique status.
• There will be a broader understanding of reducing wasted energy
through energy efficiency and significant efficiency gains in new
buildings as well as many industrial processes. Waste recovery
systems will be much smarter to facilitate much higher recycling rates.
UN sets its Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs),
a collection of 17 aims designed as a
‘blueprint to achieve a better and more
sustainable future’ by 2030.