It's World Energy Day - how will you mark the occasion?
Will you think of what energy brings to our lives today - World Energy Day?
Energy comes in many different and useful forms - energy to heat or air condition our homes, fuel to enable us to have local and international mobility and power to drive and stay connected in our new virtual world.
Energy is ultimate connector of human hopes and fears and it interconnects peoples and geographies across the globe.
For us, World Energy Day was July 11th 1924 when over 1700 experts from 40 nations decided energy issues were so important to the future of humanity and progress than a permanent world energy organisation should be established. In the aftermath of the global influenza pandemic and before the Great Depression (does this sound a bit familiar?), the "World Power Conference community and foundation" was formed in October1924. Today we are better known as the World Energy Council and despite the name change our core mission of better energy for everyone has endured.
Our independent and impartial, open-to-all world energy community has been exchanging experiences, sharing practical know-how and supporting wider cooperation through at least three different eras of energy transition - Energy for Peace, Energy for Prosperity and, nowadays, Energy for People and Planet.
Despite the declines in energy demand due to the covid lockdown, global demand will double and the pace of electrification will continue to accelerate over the next three decades. Even so, not all human need nor every energy challenge can be met through a renewables-only revolution in electrical power. In the next 30 years, rapid improvements and uptake of solar and wind power generation technologies cannot by themselves deliver reliable and affordable energy to meet the needs of all users everywhere.
The Covid-crisis has revealed the great unevenness in energy access within and between countries. There are tremendous imbalances in energy choices across geographies and societies. I don't mean trivial choices about your market provider, but deeper choices about who actually receives enough useful energy and the price they and society pay. A more honest and inclusive conversation is needed about how societies can manage the full costs of accelerating the pace of energy transition.
Simple and devastating facts often get overlooked - there is still a basic access gap - 850 million people with no access to electricity. Another 3.5 billon people lack energy for clean cooking. Even in countries with 100% access, many households have to choose between energy for heating and eating. It remarkable that even in an era of cheaper energy, household energy debt is on the increase.
Recovery from today's economic and Covid situation will not be easy and will require all our current energy sources, and more. This crisis is a timely reminder that individual actions do have global impact if we put other people and their needs at the centre of our actions.
We urgently need to Humanise Energy. The world cannot rely solely on the push of new technologies to translate global visions of better lives for all and a healthy planet into reality.
That's why we stress the WE at the World Energy Council. We are engaging many and more diverse energy transition leaders - across countries, corporations, big cities and local communities. We are reaching out to energy users and workers affected by energy transition to involve them in shaping choices and enabling behaviours. We are working on the 'how to' secure wider access to clean, affordable, reliable and socially just energy.
So what will I think about energy on World Energy Day? To me, October 22nd is a day to reflect deeply on my role and responsibility as an energy leader in bringing the gift of modern energy into the lives of everyone, everywhere. If you can help me to do more and better, please reach out and join your organisation with 'how to' community and conversation!