The case for a narrative which humanises energy
Originally published in The Wall Street Journal's Letters to the Editor on 21 November, 2020, under the title 'Poor Countries Still Need Hydrocarbon Fuels.'
The case for investment in renewables versus hydrocarbons is more nuanced and global than presented in “Investors Bet on Transition to Green Energy” (Markets, Nov. 11). The pandemic has revealed great unevenness in energy access within and between countries. Tremendous imbalances exist in energy choices across geographies and societies about who actually receives enough energy and the price society pays for it. Simple and devastating facts often get overlooked: 850 million people have no access to electricity whatsoever, and 3.5 billion people lack energy for clean cooking.
Recovery will take more than a vaccine and will require global investment in all energy sources, including hydrocarbons and more demand-driven solutions. Energy is the ultimate connector of human hopes and fears; it interconnects people and places across the globe and determines quality of life. Even in the so-called “race to zero,” energy is a bigger story than just carbon.
An honest and inclusive conversation is needed about how societies can manage the full costs of accelerating the pace of energy transition and recovery from the pandemic. It is time for a new narrative, free of the politics of polarization, which works to humanize energy.
Angela Wilkinson, Ph.D.