Energy transition: a complex but necessary journey

Excerpt from globalgovernmentforum.com

COP26 demonstrated the huge swathe of support at all levels for strong action on climate change. But recognition of the need to act is not the same as action itself, and the Glasgow discussions highlighted that the road to net zero will be fraught with many obstacles, both economic and behavioural.

Pre-positioning COP26, the 2021 IPPC’s 6th Assessment Report on Climate Change already hailed “code red for humanity”, stressing ‘irrefutable’ evidence of human influence irreversibly altering our planet, with global heating affecting every region on earth.

Governments, industry, businesses and communities alike need to collectively and in unison embrace change to achieve net zero and adapt to a resilient future. This is paramount to retaining a realistic chance of keeping the 1.5C target alive or at least being as close to it as possible.

A fundamental component in this jigsaw relates to how we generate, distribute and use energy. The swift removal of our reliance on unabated fossil fuels and a transition to green energy sources is urgently needed. This journey is not optional; it’s a harsh reality that is central to a wider economic problem at a national and global level.

Complex pathways

Achieving net zero will be complex, though it has to be that way. Our prosperity was of course simpler when much of our global economy was underpinned by extractive technologies. Carbon-based sources, obtainable with relative ease on an energy density scale, have provided an abundance (albeit not equally shared) of opportunity and growth. Relative low cost of extraction also edged out effective investment and innovation in alternative sources of energy.

However, the benefits of sourcing traditional energy sources are now on trial, given the motivational dial has changed: