4 Takeaways From WEF’s Latest Energy Transition Index Report
Updated: Apr 21, 2019
99% of scientists agree that climate change is real and that action is urgent to abate greenhouse gases. How is the world responding to these reports in terms of transitioning our polluting sources of energy to clean energy? According to the World Economic Forum’s ETI, whose purpose it to establish a fact base on energy transition from which decision-makers can benchmark progress around the world, not well. The ETI aggregates indicators from 40 different energy, economic and environmental datasets in order to provide a comprehensive, data-driven picture of the world’s energy system that can be tracked over time. There are also 4 major takeaways from their latest report regarding the state of energy transition.
1) Despite record temperatures in 2018 - the energy transition has seemed to slow down. Last year was again a year of record-setting global warmth. An alarming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stressed the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Despite this need for change, the ETI found that “globally, the energy transition has slowed. The year‑on‑year increase of the global average score on the ETI was the lowest of the last five years. Three years after the global milestone of political commitment through the Paris Agreement, this lack of progress provides a reality check on the adequacy of ongoing efforts, and the scale of the challenge.”
2) Access to electricity in developing countries is improving.
Sustainable development is the basis of sustainable growth and considers the economic, environmental, and social symbiosis of development. For example, when considering access to electricity in developing countries, one has to think of the many ways that energy affects the community- it improves access to healthcare, education, and economic growth. However, if that energy is not coming from a sustainable source, it can negatively affect their health (air pollution) and create a dependency on an energy source that will be more expensive and unsustainable in the long run. That’s why is it so important to build the “structure” of the energy transition in developing countries with a clean energy foundation.
3) The geopolitics of energy trade is shifting. “The shale oil revolution in the United States and surging energy demand in China have been the key global drivers. Over the last 10 years of available data, net energy imports relative to total supply have decreased by 20 percentage points in the US and increased by 12 in China. In comparison, net energy import levels into European Union countries have remained relatively stable over the last several years.”
4) There is a need for balancing poverty reduction and economic growth with environmental sustainability. Growing demand in India and China contributes heavily to the global carbon emissions growth in 2018, where it reached an all-time high, and is why the global consumption of coal increased over the last two years. As stated, sustainable development needs to be factored into the development of poverty reduction and this is again why is it so important to build the “structure” of the energy transition in developing countries with a clean energy foundation. Using fossil fuels to advance an economy is only setting that community up for disaster instead of building a stable foundation to grow from with renewable energy.
All in all, despite record temperatures, the energy transition has slowed down and global economic development is not factoring in a long-term sustainable plan, instead slapping a short-term band aid in order to grow with fossil fuels. This is not only reckless - it is flat out a crime against the entire planet and future generations. We live in an age where we know full well the damaging effects of greenhouse gases and we have solutions that are cheaper than fossil fuels - such as solar and wind. There really is no excuse.
In the US, the success of plans such as the Green New Deal depends on its ability to reduce greenhouse gas and local pollution, while contributing to inclusive economic growth. Should we start supporting deals such as this, instead of listening to the critics who are no doubt connected with fossil fuel lobbyists, we all benefit. There is only positive growth and benefits by transitioning to clean energy and the time is now.
The report ends with: “This year’s ETI report shows a general lack of momentum, driven by stalled environmental improvements and mixed results in economic growth and development dimensions. That said, most countries are making significant achievements in the areas of energy access and security. Furthermore, there are many other positive stories to uncover when one digs into the specifics of different countries, and these can get lost in the aggregated Index. We encourage the reader to avail of the wealth of supporting data online.” Here are a couple ways you can encourage a clean energy transition: 1. Stand With Local Organizations Building The Movement For Inclusive Clean Energy 2. Go solar
3. Vote for clean energy and reach out to your representatives
4. Support businesses that use clean energy 5. Inform friends and your community about clean energy options Written by: Thomas Enzendorfer, CEO of American Home Energy, former President of oligent and Board Member of Fronius. American Home Energy is the first ever white-label pure-play solar EPC company helping people succeed in the climate industry.