Call it a double whammy: The double whammy of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine on the global energy system is wreaking havoc, creating uncertainty about the future of energy security and the pace of the energy transition.
But this will only prompt some of the world’s most influential energy experts and policymakers to re-examine the needs of the energy system and develop new policies, practices, and standards to meet them. Many of them gathered at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum from Jan. 14-15 to present their solutions and call for urgent cooperation to improve energy security and accelerate climate goals.
Below are highlights from the event, organized by the Global Energy Center in partnership with the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, featuring COP28 Chair-designate Sultan Al Jaber and the US Presidential Envoy, among others Leader Climate John Kerry.
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January 14, 2023 | 1:00 AM ET | 10:00 AM Abu Dhabi
UK official: Working together for a low-carbon, secure energy future ‘makes us all more prosperous’
by Andrea Crabbe
According to Grant Shapps, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, energy is more important than ever.
Shapps’ message was part of his keynote speech at the Global Energy Forum, where he highlighted what has and hasn’t changed in the energy industry in the last year. He noted that the world faces difficult choices about energy use as fuel prices soar, and the world’s low-income economies are being forced to make difficult decisions. And climate change is a worryingly accelerating threat as heat waves sweep across Europe, a cyclone of bombs devastates the United States, and floods kill thousands in Pakistan.
But Shapps expressed his confidence in the future, arguing that “we will succeed as human beings” in tackling the existential challenges posed by climate change. He pointed out that more and more entrepreneurs and innovators around the world are driving innovations in key technologies, such as the recent success of nuclear fusion at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States. He praised Britain’s rapid progress in building some of the world’s largest wind farms in the North Sea, which provide 86% of the country’s electricity needs. These developments should give us all hope for the future, he concluded.
However, he cautioned that “a fairer future is worth fighting for” and stressed the need to scale up just transition initiatives, such as those in South Africa and Indonesia, to provide climate and economic security (and the job growth needed) in developing countries . Although the world faces challenges that he believes no other generation has faced, he says there are many reasons to be hopeful — and there is still much work to be done.
Shapps’ comments came a day after Britain and the United Arab Emirates signed a memorandum of understanding on clean energy to increase investment and cooperation between the two countries on energy security. “When it comes to climate change … none of us should settle for less. So collaboration is really important.”
January 14, 2023 | 12:30 AM ET | 9:30 AM Abu Dhabi
COP28 president-elect: ‘Transformative progress’ needed as world ‘off track’ on Paris goals
With the crucial UN climate change summit due to take place in the United Arab Emirates at the end of the year, “the world is playing catch-up” to meet emissions reduction targets, said Sultan Al, the UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology. But, he added, there is ample opportunity to accelerate new technologies and adapt old ones to achieve net zero emissions, a milestone that would represent “the greatest economic and human commitment since the first industrial revolution”.
Al Jaber spoke at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi on Saturday morning, his first since being named the new president of the twenty-eighth United Nations Conference of the Parties to Climate Change (COP28), which is a two-day gathering of policymakers, government officials and business leaders to set the energy agenda for the coming year.
Al Jaber acknowledged that the world was “off track” in meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
But at his first chance to set a vision for the landmark meeting – which he says will be a COP of “unity” and “action” as it engages in the first “global stocktake” progress report – Al Jaber offers a roadmap for what he envisions as “transformative progress.”
🇦🇪 Dr. Sultan Al Jaber outlines his vision #COP28 UAE earlier today #AC Energy Forum:
“We want it to be a practical COP. A COP for action. A COP for all. A COP that raises ambition and moves from goals to actually accomplishing them.”
Watch more: ➡️ https://t.co/V0Y0DwZSBf pic.twitter.com/nVtQ5ilhki
– Atlantic Council (@AtlanticCouncil) January 14, 2023
January 13, 2023 | 3:00 pm Washington | January 14, 2023 | 12:00 pm Abu Dhabi
The 2023 Global Energy Agenda
By Landon Derentz, Christine Suh, Ameya Hadap, Paul Kielstra (editors)
In 2022, the Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupted the return of the global energy system to pre-COVID normality, injecting turmoil and uncertainty into the industry. Russia’s gas cuts have led Europe to make up for lost energy supplies by reverting to coal and oil, leading the international community to face deepening tensions between national security, energy security and climate action.
Yet Europe’s crisis, despite leading to a surge in carbon-intensive electricity, has given the world new impetus to alter the trajectory of the energy transition. In response, policymakers around the world are stepping up efforts to decouple their economies from foreign hydrocarbons and decarbonize their energy systems. Ultimately, war could accelerate long-term trends in energy systems to be more sustainable and secure.
Against this backdrop, energy leaders entered 2023 with substantially revised outlooks for 2022, as revealed in the third edition of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Agenda. The publication includes analysis based on our survey of energy stakeholders, representing a broad range of industries from more than 50 countries. Complementing our investigative analysis, articles by experts, business leaders, and policymakers from a variety of fields provide deeper insights into the upheavals of 2022 and their implications for reshaping future energy systems.
While the complexity of the energy transition defines the year, there is reason for optimism as the global energy community redoubles its efforts to achieve climate goals and long-term energy security for all.