A transition towards a progressively more sustainable future, with decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and the recovery of environmental degradation, requires a different economy, namely more environmentally friendly production, processes and technologies and a different concept of well-being, associated with new criteria through which companies can evaluate the added value they produce as a function of the whole wealth and not just the flow of revenues and the number of accumulated machines and infrastructures. The vector of this absolutely needed transformation is the low-carbon economy which, although declined according to different sectoral meanings and scaled to the levels of development of various nations and their vocations, gathers all the effort currently ongoing in the world towards sustainable development. The low-carbon economy involves a new vision of problems and dynamics of development, new cultures, different skills and training methods. Indeed, from this transition, derive new sectors (low-carbon sectors), new types of job (green jobs) and new technologies (green technologies).
The technical and economic feasibility of this challenge will depend not only in the real conviction for the cause but also on the different development perspectives, public policies and risks that will take place on the road to change. This will require a structural transformation of society, a new consciousness, a revolutionary order.
A modern economy cannot move towards a low-carbon path if traditional industries do not increase their energy, carbon and material efficiency through new ways of organizing or through new forms of innovation that lead to products that are less energetic in their use, even if this innovation is triggered by considerations of cost or competitiveness rather than genuine environmental concerns. However, without environmental interests and without an adequate vision of their future, no one would be able to remain for long on a coherent transition path towards a different and sustainable type of economy. Hence, a transition with deep meanings, which go far beyond the narrow energy and economic boundaries, leading to ethical and social contexts.
The possible success in the long term will require new skills, different collaborations, continuous innovation, investments with uncertain returns and a change in what are today’s market values.
In recent years, many are the temporal hypotheses linked to the scenarios of such a transition. One of these is represented by the interesting study by Benjamin K. Sovacool (2016) entitled “How long will it take? Conceptualizing the temporal dynamics of energy transitions”, according to which the new energy and economic revolution can be completed within a fraction of the time that was necessary for previous revolutions. However, he says, in order to get there “it would take an interdisciplinary collaboration, a multi-scale effort”. He argues that the transition towards a low-carbon economy may be different than the past transitions since resource scarcity, the threat of climate change and the greatly improved technological knowledge and innovation could greatly accelerate global change for a cleaner economic future.