If we don’t change the way we produce and distribute energy; millions will be left behind.
The world is in trouble. Environmental degradation and the steady rise in greenhouse gas emissions, notably CO2, are driving climate change at a time when the world is struggling to meet the food, energy and resource needs of our growing global population.
The UN reckons that the world’s population, currently estimated at over 7 billion, will rise to 9 billion by 2050. The IEA calculates that this growth will translate into a doubling in world energy demand over that period.
Keeping pace with this growing demand for energy while mitigating or adapting to climate change is one of the key challenges world leaders will be looking to address as they work towards a global deal on climate at COP21 in Paris next year. Much of the groundwork for that deal started beginning of the month during the COP20 held in Lima (Peru).
A report published during COP20 by the Global Electricity Initiative (GEI), which I chair, shows that the world will have to fundamentally change the way in which we produce and consume electricity if we are to meet our climate goals and guarantee a sustainable future for all without compromising on economic growth and development.
The GEI was formed in 2012 when the World Energy Council (WEC) joined forces with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP) to support electrical utilities’ efforts to ensure reliable electricity supply, improve energy access and mitigate or adapt the effects of climate change.
The report, based on survey data from CEOs of electricity companies in countries that together account for more than 80% of global installed generation capacity, reveals that:
- Universal access to electricity will not be achieved by the 2030 target date set by the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All (UNSE4ALL) under the current ‘business as usual’ scenarios. But it can happen if, and only if, government, industry and the international community undertake immediate concerted action.
- Utilities are investing heavily in new, renewable, carbon-free technologies. However, the world will have to continue to rely on fossil fuels for power generation for many decades.
- Long-term thinking, stable and clear regulation, strong collective commitment and a realistic carbon price are required to redirect investment.
- Climate change is already a reality today and the focus will now be placed on adaptation as much as mitigation.
- Utilities are often exposed to contradictory expectations and signals from governments, industry, consumers and other stakeholders. As the electricity sector is still a regulated industry, clear and consistent messages and directions from the regulator are required.
- Ensuring security of electricity supply remains the number one priority for utilities.
- The energy-water nexus and competition for land are becoming major issues.
The GEI will now focus on a few selected topics emerging from this report, including regional integration, the energy-water nexus, the future fuel mix in the context of the increasing shares of renewables or the integration of intermittent renewables into the grid. Are there other risks the GEI should be looking at? What solutions do you see to meet our climate and energy challenges? Please add them as comments below or tweet them to me @JoubertPhilippe.
Link to the report: http://www.worldenergy.org/publications/2014/global-electricity-initiative
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Climate change, Sustainable energy