- DER Technologies
- Renewable Energy
- Climate Change
- Federal Government
Climate Change in the New Normal
Most governments around the world have declared a national emergency as the coronavirus outbreak has worsened. The energy sector is not immune to this new unprecedented shift in the social and economic environment. Despite its serious manifestation, the outbreak is short-term and temporary while climate change is long-term and permanent. Efforts to tackle climate change should still be prioritized as governments design financial stimulus packages to rebuild the economy. National governments have an opportunity to integrate energy sustainability into their new agendas.
In a recent announcement, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Dr. Fatih Birol, has urged governments to not lose sight of climate change’s challenges. According to the IEA, “Taking these steps is extremely important because the combination of the coronavirus and volatile market conditions will distract the attention of policymakers, business leaders, and investors away from clean energy transitions. This situation is a test of governments’ and companies’ commitment. Observers will quickly notice if their emphasis on clean energy transitions fades when market conditions become more challenging.’’
The Pandemic Sets the Stage for Positive Changes in Energy Consumption
On a positive note, there is likely to be a massive reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. According to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Finland, China’s carbon emissions have dropped by about 100 million metric tonnes in February of this year as energy demand nosedived in the country. The estimated power generation from coal plants at the start of 2020 was the lowest 2 weeks average in the last 4 years. However, this reduction is likely to be temporary as countries resume their energy consumption practices after the pandemic has run its course. IEA analysis shows that governments directly or indirectly drive more than 70% of global energy investments. Therefore, it is imperative that governments and businesses adopt a more sustained approach that is supported by stringent policies and strategies to prevent an emissions rebound.
Some of these initiatives could be fairly simple to implement. For example, given that oil & gas prices have hit new lows, removing fossil fuel subsidies and instead acting to decarbonize the supply chain through local sourcing can now save massive transport-related carbon emissions around the world. The energy sector should use the pandemic as an opportunity to unlock opportunities across clean technologies, sustainable practices, and increased energy efficient practices.