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Energy sector can help steer planet’s course, says Figueres

Industry has both the opportunity and responsibility to determine our future

There is no other sector of the global economy that has so much opportunity or responsibility to determine what the future of the planet is going to be, than the energy sector, WEC 2013 delegates were told yesterday.

“It is absolutely on the shoulders of the energy sector to determine whether we are going to have a planet that is not just sustainable with energy and energy security, but whether we’re going to have a planet with reliable health indices; food security; one with viable low-lying countries and cities; as well as a planet with viable population stability,” Christiana Figueres, executive chair of the UN framework convention on climate change, said.

“The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change clearly sounded the alarm that greenhouse gas emissions will cause tremendous and irreversible harm to the economies of the world if not quickly curbed. The good news is that the money, technology and policy tools to shift the current emissions trajectory and steer humanity out of the danger zone are available,” she added.

Speaking at the launch of the World Energy Council’s report Time To Get Real – The Agenda For Change, Figueres said it is very clearly not the quantity but quality of energy that is going to determine the quality of life on this planet. She added that to reach a world that stays within a 2 degree Celsius maximum temperature rise boundary, there is a need for the concerted action that is called for by the agenda for change – and that means a very unique collaboration between the private and public sectors is needed.

Both sectors need to work together to address the solutions to climate change, Figueres said.

The World Energy Council said that a policy framework that simultaneously delivers secure, affordable, and environmentally sustainable energy is one of the most important challenges facing governments today. This triple challenge is known as the energy trilemma. “The underlying concept is that unless we look at all three dimensions, policy will not be sustainable, not just environmentally, but commercially, it will not be durable for your countries,” Joan MacNaughton, WEC executive chair, said.

The report tapped into the insights of 100-plus global energy leaders and resulted in the identification of 10 jointly acknowledged priority action areas. There is a consensus about what needs to be done, but people are struggling how to deliver it, MacNaughton added.

Of the key challenges identified is securing financing. By 2035, the energy sector needs investments totaling $37 trillion. Of which, $10 trillion to $12 trillion is needed in Asia, which is a huge challenge for the region.

The barriers to, and potential solutions for, attracting more infrastructure investment from the private sector and institutional investors needs to be addressed.

For political decision makers and the energy industry, the report is a call to action by peers and colleagues, the council said. “I recommend that governments look closely at the report and act on its conclusions, which will strengthen the outcome of the 2015 global climate agreement and raise immediate ambition to curb greenhouse gases,” said Figueres.

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