Industrial Age businesses, most of which depended on fossil fuels for their commercial success, have simply not survived the exponential technologies unleashed by the post-digital era. They’ve become economically obsolete.
In the early Twenties, energy, transport and food were identified as the biggest emissions culprits, and blamed for 90% of our negative influence on the climate. But the writing was already on the wall for the major industries supporting these sectors for a hundred years.
In energy it was coal, gas and oil for power and heat, and supplying heavy industry like steel making. Declining cost curves for solar, wind and storage, as well as decentralization of power generation, made it impossible for the old business models to survive.
Transport was driven by petro products and combustion engines, but once battery breakthroughs made electric cars maintenance free and lasting five times longer, the market for gas burners just disappeared. That’s if anyone wants a private car – robotaxis do the job perfectly well in most cities these days. Even trucking has gone lightweight and electric, and long-distance freight and rail have turned to hydrogen – it’s cheaper as well as cleaner.
And what about food? Farming, especially with animals, has long been one of the biggest consumers of natural resources and contributors to greenhouse gasses. But no self-respecting human eats animals anymore, and manufactured protein and microbial food isn’t only healthier – it tastes better too.
Which is why those old carbon-intensive industries have either reinvented themselves or simply faded away. Nobody needs them, or their products.