Energy sector faces increasing pressures from climate change - new report

Posted on 13 June 2014

The energy sector is facing increasing pressures from climate change. All segments of the industry will be affected by the changing global climate and the policy responses to it.  So says a briefing published jointly by the World Energy Council (WEC), the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), the Cambridge Judge Business School, and the European Climate Foundation.

Cover Climate Change - Implications for the Energy Sector -Summary from IPCC AR5 2014The briefing, released on 18 June  at the Asian Clean Energy Forum in Manila, brings into sharp focus the energy-related findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) for policymakers and business leaders in the energy sector. It identifies the need to incorporate climate change mitigation and adaptation measures into energy policymaking, infrastructure planning, and investment decisions.

Download the report: Climate Change – Implications for the Energy Sector -Summary from IPCC AR5  (477.14 kB)

Download the Infographic: Climate Change – Implications for the Energy Sector -Summary from IPCC AR5 (127.11 kB)

The briefing, “Climate Change: implications for the energy sector”, reveals:

  • Energy demand is increasing globally, causing an increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. The trend is set to continue, driven primarily by economic growth and rising population.
  • Climate change presents increasing challenges for energy production and transmission as a result of temperature increase, extreme weather events, and changing precipitation patterns.
  • Significant cuts in GHG emissions from energy can be achieved through a variety of measures, including cutting emissions from fossil fuel extraction and conversion, switching to lower-carbon fuels, improving energy efficiency, increasing use of renewables and nuclear, introduction of carbon capture and storage (CCS), and reducing final energy demand.
  • Strong global political action on climate change would have major implications for the energy sector.
  • Incentivising investment in low-carbon technologies will be a key challenge for governments and regulators to achieve carbon reduction targets.

Christoph Frei, Secretary General of the World Energy Council, commented:

“Climate change is certain to impact the energy sector. We need robust and transparent policy frameworks to unlock the required long-term investments that are urgently needed to deliver the future we want. Leadership will be required at all levels. As we look to create resilient energy systems that meet the triple challenge of the energy trilemma the time has come to get real about the challenges facing the energy sector. There is no climate framework without national energy policy.”

Climate Change - Implications for the Energy Sector -Summary from IPCC AR5 2014 - Infographic

Philippe Joubert, Advisory Board member for the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, Executive Chair of the WEC’s Global Electricity Initiative, and former President of Alstom Power, also commented:

“The latest climate science is clear about the reality and impacts of climate change. This summary report helps business to understand the scale and urgency of the issues involved for the energy sector and should be seen as a call to action for the leaders of a sector which is responsible for over a third of CO2 emissions. Leading businesses in this sector increasingly realise that business as usual is no longer possible nor acceptable.”

Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, added:

“The energy sector has a critical role to play in the mitigation of greenhouse gases and in helping the world to adapt to the inevitable impact brought by climate change, some of which would directly affect energy-related activities. A thorough understanding of the implications of climate change will help the energy sector plan strategically for the future. AR5 contains a wealth of relevant information which will be central to this planning in the years to come. The initiative of the World Energy Council, the University of Cambridge, and the European Climate Foundation will play a useful role in embedding an understanding of climate science and its significance for the energy sector.”