Chair calls for speed, focus and results to reduce the risks posed by climate change

Posted on 28 January 2016

MJN picAt the ‘Global Action Day’ which opened the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, Marie-José Nadeau, Chair of the World Energy Council, addressed the plenary session ‘The role of cooperative action in supporting the future of global energy and boosting innovation’. The session explored the future of the global energy industry as nations seek to transition to a low carbon economy while maintaining economic growth and supplying energy to growing populations.

Following on from the opening addresses given by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Ms Nadeau said:

“The Paris Agreement is only a starting point for governments and the energy industry. The Agreement will not stabilise the climate, but the collective efforts of 195 countries who have published their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, INDCs, will go a long way to achieving success.

Countries must now do what they said they would do, and deliver on their INDCs and report in a transparent mode to their national stakeholders as well as to the international community.”

In her address, Ms Nadeau described the findings of the World Energy Council Scenarios for 2050 saying that on current trends, total energy demand is set to increase, with fossil fuels remaining the dominant energy source, supplying roughly between a quarter and a third of the global primary energy mix.

“Nations cannot suddenly force each other to stop emitting greenhouses gases, because fossil fuels are fundamental to the way that many economies work”, said Ms Nadeau. “However, with new technologies coming on stream, the share of renewables is set to record its highest rate of growth reaching between 20% and 30% of the global energy mix by the year 2050.”

Ms Nadeau also talked about the importance of the Energy Trilemma and the need for sustainable energy policies that balance the need for decarbonisation on the one hand, and the need to ensure energy security and to alleviate energy poverty on the other hand.

“As the global economy continues to experience difficult times, balancing the Trilemma is not going to be an easy task,” Ms Nadeau said. “But the Paris Agreement does offer a range of mechanisms and a roadmap to achieving goals.

“Countries have pledged more money to help the poorest and more vulnerable countries adapt to the effects of climate change. The Agreement requires a flow of $100 billion a year from developed countries to developing ones by 2020 – a total which is to be reconsidered in 2025. Also there is the basis for new carbon pricing mechanisms.”

In presenting the results of the World Energy Issues Monitor, a survey of 1000 energy leaders from across the globe on what they perceived as the top priorities, Ms Nadeau said that the energy industry must also play its part.  She listed five key actions that the survey highlighted:

  • Trade and technology transfer.
  • Carbon pricing.
  • Address the costs that may accompany commitments to targets, particularly relevant for developing economies.
  • Better management of demand and energy efficiency programmes.
  • RD&D investment in key areas such as electricity storage, smart grids, high efficiency combustion engines, fuel cells and batteries, new renewable technologies and advanced biofuels.

Ms Nadeau closed her address:

 “However, it has to be recognised that at the moment the energy sector is facing disruptive change. The deep dive of the price of crude oil is badly hurting both the industry and resource-dependent countries. In the electricity sector, the combined effects of decarbonisation, digitalisation and decentralisation is forcing a profound transformation of the industry.

Furthermore, rates of returns and earnings are deteriorating which is leading to a reconfiguration of businesses with subsequent impacts on jobs, assets, operation budgets and Capex. But, even against this turbulent background, positive transformation is occurring in the energy sector.

On a positive note, it is encouraging to see that countries want to reduce the risks posed by climate change and know that they will have to find a way of working together. The real question now is for governments – will policymakers embrace the much needed policy decisions at the pace that they themselves called for in Paris?

What is needed is speed, focus and results so that when the first opportunity in 2018 comes to take stock, we can see real progress being made.”

Marie-José Nadeau was appointed Member to the Order of Canada in the country’s 2016 New Year’s Honours List in recognition of her outstanding lifetime achievements in the energy sector. It is one of the country’s highest civilian honours.