As 2023 winds down, a variety of positive outcomes — a recession that didn’t happen, strong public support for reproductive freedoms and incremental advances in climate policies — must compete for public attention with a new nasty war in the Middle East and a continuing one in Ukraine.

2024 thus promises to be a consequential year with five major sustainability concerns at the forefront:

What role will fossil fuels continue to play in the mix of global energy supplies?

This question represents a central debate at COP28 and beyond. Based upon current industry projections, virtually all of the top-20 producing nations plan to extract more oil, gas and coal in 2030 than they do today.

Will the transition to electric vehicles take longer than expected?

The factors in play for a market transformation from internal combustion to electrified vehicles have become increasingly complex for auto manufacturers, their supply chains, policymakers and consumers.

Will the Supreme Court overturn the Chevron Deference?

After a successful 50-year campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade, conservative legal advocates are gunning to dethrone what is perhaps the most consequential administrative law ruling in the history of U.S. jurisprudence known as the "Chevron Deference." The essence of the Chevron Deference, decided by the Supreme Court in 1985, is as follows: If Congress has not written specific instructions for implementing legislation, then courts should determine if an agency’s legal interpretation is "reasonable." If courts concur, they should then "defer" to the agency’s decision and not substitute a separate interpretation. At stake in the decision are the regulatory authorities and processes that have been in place for nearly 50 years to protect health, environmental and occupational safety; ensure food and pharmaceutical quality; regulate the quantity of fishing harvests; and prevent financial irregularities by banks and investors. EPA’s efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power generation and transportation sources will be centrally affected by this ruling.

Will geopolitical conflicts affect climate change, biodiversity and other priority sustainability concerns?

The answer is yes. Advancements in sustainability policies and commitments are most likely to occur in times of political and economic stability across major nations and regions.

Will Generation Z and other voters continue their expanded political participation?

The most impactful decision Gen Z can make in 2024 is to vote in national and local elections.

Read the full article about sustainability by Terry F. Yosie at GreenBiz.