Shifting perspectives about climate change through art

Zero is the hardest number we’ll have to reach together.

In a typical year, the world emits more than 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases. If we want to preserve a livable planet, we must get that number to zero within the next few decades. At Breakthrough Energy, we’re building a network to accelerate a wave of clean energy innovations and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. We envision a future where everyone has access to clean, reliable, and affordable energy. If we don’t reduce emissions, future generations will bear the consequences of our inaction.

Failure is not an option.

The Five Grand Challenges

F0CUS from Project Art Collective depicts the Five Grand Challenges, the main sources of today’s global greenhouse gas emissions. Breakthrough Energy commissioned the sculpture for the 2022 Breakthrough Energy Summit to show attendees that together, these sources of emissions contribute to the climate crisis—and only together, as a network, can we address these challenges to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

About F0CUS

F0CUS is a perspective-based sculpture that stands 13 feet tall and 15 feet wide. Comprised of over 1,000 individual hand-crafted objects, the artwork is set on a circular base which represents the number zero. The sculpture’s hanging elements depict five different symbols, representing each of the Five Grand Challenges. The artwork is meant to be experienced from multiple vantage points, as its central visual image shifts and changes as the viewer changes their perspective.

What are the Grand Challenges?

The Five Grand Challenges are a framework that Breakthrough Energy uses to outline and approach solving the climate crisis. Each challenge represents a portion of the main sources of today’s global greenhouse gas emissions. The idea was first introduced in BE Founder Bill Gates’ 2021 book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need as a comprehensive way to help break down and put in perspective the problem of climate change—which can sometimes seem too big to solve—and to advance the clean energy transition. Learn more about each challenge below.

The main sources of today’s global greenhouse gas emissions are:

  • Manufacturing
    30% of global emissions
    Nearly a third of global emissions come from manufactured goods and materials. We need to use clean electricity and production processes whenever possible to reach net zero in this sector. We also need to scale up existing technologies that capture and store carbon so that it doesn’t enter the atmosphere when clean processes are unavailable.
  • Electricity
    26% of global emissions
    Wind and solar power are more prevalent and affordable than ever before. But we still rely heavily on fossil fuels and other emitting technologies to power our lives. To reach net zero in this sector, we need to find new ways to generate, store, and use low-carbon electricity while scaling up existing technologies like wind and solar, advanced nuclear power, geothermal energy, and thermal generation with carbon capture.
  • Agriculture
    21% of global emissions
    Agricultural emissions come from the livestock we raise for meat and dairy as well as the soil itself. Bringing these emissions to zero while still meeting growing global demand for food will require us to make significant changes to the ways we farm and eat: reducing the use of fertilizers, improving soil management, cutting methane emissions from livestock, and minimizing the consumption and waste of high-carbon foods by scaling up technologies like plant-based meat and dairy products.
  • Transportation
    16% of global emissions
    Internal combustion engines have revolutionized how we live, but at a steep price for emissions. Getting transportation emissions to zero will require a complete transformation of the way goods and people are transported, from electric vehicles to low-carbon fuels.
  • Buildings
    7% of global emissions
    Buildings emit carbon in two ways: when we build them (using manufactured cement, steel, and iron) and when we use them (with heating and air-conditioning). We can make existing buildings more energy efficient, but we cannot change the emissions released when they were built. From greener materials to cleaner industrial processes, we must find ways to build and use buildings without emitting carbon.

Meet Project Art Collective
Project Art Collective is a multidisciplinary creative studio at the intersection of art, design, experience and technology on a mission to explore, create meaning and provoke wonder through design and storytelling. F0CUS, created for Breakthrough Energy Summit 2022, is the product of an artistic exploration of the complexities of the climate crisis.