Global energy industry leaders gathered in Doha, Qatar this week for the latest round of international talks on climate change pressed with renewed urgency for changes in government approaches to energy, offering specific recommendations alongside rankings gathered by the World Energy Council in partnership with consultancy Oliver Wyman.
“Leaders in the energy industry want to make sustainable energy a reality, but there’s a real mismatch between what we’re seeing and what we’re doing,” Oliver Wyman partner Mark Robson told Breaking Energy ahead of the release of a report called “World Energy Trilemma: Time to get real – the case for sustainable energy policy.”
“We’re taking too long in creating the regulatory environment that creates the market” companies can compete in and use to create more-efficient, lower-cost solutions to pressing energy supply and sustainability issues, Robson said.
The global energy trilemma – issues of energy security, social equity and environmental impact mitigation – have been highlighted by the WEC in previous reports and at previous high-level meetings the London-based group has held around the world. This report is the fourth issued by WEC, report Executive Chair and Vice-Chair of the UNFCCC High-Level Panel on the Clean Development Mechanism Joan MacNaughton told Breaking Energy, but has a crucial difference.
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In addition to the rankings of countries along the three trilemma criteria, the World Energy Council sought out input from dozens of the world’s top energy industry executives about what they needed from governments to solve the problems of underinvestment, energy insecurity, lack of access and insufficient adoption of sustainability practices. Next year’s report will flip the question and ask governments what they need from the industry to solve the energy trilemma.
Following years of what has amounted to large-scale but often short-sighted experimentation with energy policies and forms of funding to meet energy challenges around the world, both in response to growing output of greenhouse gases and heightened supply concerns, industry struck a note of urgency ahead of the COP 18 conference hosted by the United Nations in Doha.
“After decades of work to advance sustainable energy solutions, an energy gap is growing as energy systems around the world buckle under significant strain,” the report’s executive summary reads. “If the supply of sustainable energy continues to lag behind rapidly rising demand globally, billions of people could be forced to live without reliable electricity and economic growth could be put in jeopardy.”
The strong language is appropriate given both the urgency of the problem and its interconnected complexity, MacNaughton noted to Breaking Energy. “We need a much more strategic approach to energy policy,” she said, one that is internally consistent, consistent with both other national and regional policies as well as being minimally subsidized but supportive of research and development work.
The key is long-term planning, she said. Countries gathered at the top of the World Energy Council’s national rankings – including Sweden, Canada and Denmark – have established long-term priorities that create market stability and confidence for investors.
“There is no shortage of money available,” Robson said. “Policy risk is keeping money on the sidelines.”
Robson, who is based in the Middle East, cited several countries there as early examples of the benefits of long-term planning for energy sustainability, making Doha an unexpectedly ideal location for the climate change discussions. “Give us a clear indication of the energy mix [governments] want, and help us with research incentives and grants to meet that energy mix in the most cost effective and competitive way – create the environment that allows for industry to meet that [challenge],” Robson said the energy industry leaders interviewed for the report told WEC.
For more on the report, as well as related content, visit the World Energy Council site.