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In the documentary 2040, addressing possible solutions to climate change, director Damon Gameau (That Sugar Movie) accurately describes his quest as “factual dreaming.” Framed as a message to his young daughter and her 2040 self, the film follows a global journey to discover what impact existing technologies, if realised now, would look like in 2040.

What follows is an exploration of innovations, from mini-economy solar panels in Bangladesh to harvesting seaweed to produce sustenance for a burgeoning world population, lowering carbon levels in the process. The narrative is bolstered by clever graphics illustrating the science and the concepts, a useful shorthand for complex issues. 

Gameau isn’t starry-eyed about the prospects of implementing these new technologies and frankly admits that for many people, change is in the too hard box. Those same people, the ones who actually care enough to see 2040, might decide to eat seaweed because marine permaculture will save the planet. Undercutting all these good ideas, however, is that we humans largely fail the environment for a host of lousy but prevalent reasons. Maybe Gameau’s next film could explore why, given humanity’s best and worst, a global idyll might not be sustainable.

★★★ ½