The Energy Industry is Key to a Low-Carbon Economy

4 October 2020

Blog By: Seifi Ghasemi

COVID-19 represents an opportunity for the broader energy sector, and businesses essential to that sector, to rethink traditional processes and drive innovation.

Aligning the global COVID-19 recovery strategy with decarbonization targets is an opportunity not just for a green transition, but also, for sustainable growth. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), this alignment could boost global economic growth by approximately 3.5 percent and directly produce around 27 million jobs worldwide through 2023. Further, the Business 20, the voice of the private sector to the G20, recently issued a joint statement with the IEA, calling on the G20 to make real and lasting progress in clean energy. Importantly, the parties recognize the momentum to enact policies that prevent a rebound of carbon emissions and support a sustainable recovery, while boosting growth and creating new green jobs.

Clearly, the drive is on to promote efficient, renewable, cleaner and alternative fuels, innovative technology, and new paradigms such as circular carbon economy and nature-based solutions. We already have many of the necessary solutions, with the possibility to eliminate 75% to 90% of the gap between emissions under current policies and individual 2050 2°C Paris targets using generally accepted technologies. For the remaining gap, solutions already exist, but require further advancement and scaling. We need to lead, and strategically and boldly invest in these technologies, which ultimately become engines of social and economic development.

There are significant opportunities for governments to act in partnership with business to create meaningful progress and drive more international cooperation going forward, particularly countries with a vision to increase energy independence and reduce imports. Significant advancements in low-emissions technology are making the transition to a low-carbon economy financially and technically viable, including for sectors such as electricity, manufacturing and mobility. Again, technological innovation will remain key, including reliance on renewable energy, such as wind and solar power.

A sustainable and inclusive approach to energy does not need to come at the expense of economic interests. We see from the data that this is simply not true. A green transition is one that lifts people up, creating new jobs, new industries, new skills and new investments, overall representing an opportunity for a more equal and inclusive economy built on sustainable development. The business community is a powerful voice in this area. Let us continue to lead the way with our expertise and show that an innovative, green transition benefits everyone, from the workers in the energy and related industries to global markets and beyond.

Seifi Ghasemi is Co-Chair of the B20 Energy, Sustainability & Climate Taskforce and Chairman, President and CEO of Air Products.

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