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Finding investment opportunities in a rapidly changing world

For example, just stop and consider last year’s development of COVID-19 vaccines, made possible by lightning-fast genomic sequencing. The Human Genome Project began in 1990 as an international research collaboration to determine the base pairs that make up human DNA—it took 13 years to complete. Scientists can now sequence an entire human genome overnight, and for less than the cost of a business suit. Just as miraculous, the time it took pharmaceutical companies such as Moderna to develop a COVID-19 vaccine based on that sequencing was a mere two days. Genomic mapping at this speed and cost opens up immense possibilities for personalized medicine, a market estimated to approach US$3 trillion globally next year.¹

We look at three areas in which dramatic change is establishing new paradigms and new ways of thinking: the low-carbon transition, the rapid digitization and rising wealth of emerging-market economies, and the adoption of new strategies in the search for yield.

The low-carbon transition

The goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement is to limit global warming to well below 2ºC relative to preindustrial levels. Meeting this goal requires that countries reach peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible so that, together, we achieve a carbon-neutral world by 2050. This shift to a low-carbon global economy would likely affect nearly every facet of our lives; for example, even as worldwide electricity generation nearly doubles in the coming decades, the share of electricity generation represented by renewable energy would increase from 24% in 2015 to 85% by 2050. Actions taken since 2015 have already sparked low-carbon solutions and new markets across the global economy, most visibly in the power and transport sectors. The world’s largest automobile manufacturers have announced plans to eliminate the internal combustion engine (ICE) from their production lines, while governments around the world have set timeframes for achieving zero vehicular emissions. It’s estimated that electric vehicle sales could surpass ICE sales globally before 2050.

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