How will the energy map be shaped on a global scale?

This blog is part of a series published on WEFLIVE from young leaders in the One Young World community who are addressing issues across the world relating to the World Economic Forum 2017 theme of 'Responsive and Responsible Leadership'.

[[[image 1- large]]]

With the start of a dynamic new year accompanied by many political uncertainties and the obscurity of new beginnings- turmoil markets, dramatic shifts in investment trends, the rise of climate change threats as we have never seen it before and 125 countries ratifying the Paris Agreement- one indubitable question echoes loud: how will the energy map be shaped on the global scale?

It is a question of momentum and pulses. Confronting climate change with low-carbon technologies and renewable energy economies has entered the ‘irreversible momentum’ phase and the global adaptation pulse is mounting.

Clean energy deployments have witnessed ample growth in recent years despite low prices of fossil fuels and a quarter of the value of subsidies in 2014 according to the IEA. Rapid innovations, technological advancements and economies of scale have turned clean energy from niche asset-class status limited to investors with impact mandate to a sound stand-alone investment proposition.

The dramatic cost reduction in renewable electricity costs (41% for wind, 54% for rooftop solar PV installations and 64% for utility scale PV) provides companies, entrepreneurs, manufacturers and investors with an attractive economic opportunity to expedite the deployment of clean energy. Clearly, neither the business case nor the momentum can be ignored here.

Large corporates like Google, General Motors, Amazon, Apple, Walmart and others are turning to renewable energy to power their operations for the following reasons: lower-costs for operations in the long-term, hedge against the price volatility in traditional energy markets and valuable diversity in energy supply. Importantly, corporate adoption to renewables is pivotal to achieving decarbonisation targets and leading by example on the climate commitment and corporate social responsibility fronts.

The above indicates a chief pulse of an energy transformation taking place: from traditional to renewable energy arena, however, commitment of governments is essential to keeping up the momentum. This commitment can take multiple forms such as cutting fossil-fuel subsidies ($5Billion/year in US alone), inducing policies that reward businesses for reducing their carbon consumption by saving energy cost and introducing corporate tax reforms. Governmental choices for near-term policy reforms have the power to shape a long-term economic growth and opportunities that will reap societal benefits and put us at the winning side of climate change.

Leading the climate combat by taking the necessary steps to restructure a global energy map for a clean future must include the young generation that is trapped in the middle of this transformation. Millennials must be involved and have the voting right to influence decisions that will mold their future. Unlike any other generation, Millennials are the generation at risk to inherit a planet with catastrophic natural conditions, if today’s leaders were not to act responsibly and promptly. Regardless of the process outcome, the young generation will have to fix whatever damages they are left with. Therefore, here is an opportunity for the responsible among the world leaders to not only listen to the millennial generation but also train the next generation of world leaders by actively involving them in the decision making process! Will they keep up the momentum or ignore the pulse? 

Dr. Enass Abo-Hamed is a Research Associate at University of Cambridge. She is also the co-founder and CEO of H2GO which creates clean, safe hydrogen storage solutions and aims to bring affordable, reliable energy to millions of people around the world. H2GO won the best energy startup award at the HT Summit this year.