One of the major challenges we are facing today is what we know as climate change, caused by an ever increasing emission of greenhouse gases. With a contribution of more than 80 percent, energy usage is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions, originating mainly from transport and the production of electricity and heat – both for industry and households.
By now we are aware of the necessity to decrease our emissions of greenhouse gases drastically within a rather short period of time: by 2050 the CO2-emissions should be 60% lower compared with 2013 to have at least 50% chance of limiting average global temperature increase to 2°C.
Major commitments like the ones made within the Paris Agreement are a bigger step forward than we have ever achieved before. But still, at this moment all the pledges made by countries worldwide will limit temperature increase to only 4°C. On the other hand, the cost of renewable energy generation capacity is going down at fast pace. And this economic incentive will probably be decisive to accelerate the transformation of our energy system.
But despite the fact ambitious goals are set and economics are in favour of a transformation of the energy sector towards sustainability, another factor is very important to make sure this transformation happens fast enough: we need active players. Active players are required to execute and facilitate the changes.
People with a technical background are needed to design and implement the new technologies. This should not only happen at high level, but is equally important on the lowest level to make sure that the huge amount of small energy consumers and producers join the transformation. In this regard, we should not only think about houses in Europe that require better insulation, but also about the billions of houses that will be built in developing countries. We should not only think about replacing compact fluorescent lamps with LED-lighting, but also about the 1.7 billion people not even having access to electricity at this moment. We can not afford them to go through the same evolution as we have seen in developed countries; we should make sure their electrification is as sustainable as possible right from the start.
We also need people with economical knowledge. They have to set up financial plans that will convince people to implement sustainable energy technologies. And again, this should happen at all levels of society. Banks should make it possible to invest easily in companies embracing sustainability; local companies can set up customised financial plans for their clients.
People who know about the legal aspects associated with the implementation of new technologies: we also need them. We need them on a national and international scale to make sure agreements like to Paris Agreement come about; but we also need them to think about more day to day events like how to protect individuals facing possible damage to their newly installed generation capacity.
We need people in all sorts of disciplines on every level of society working actively on the energy transformation. And we have them, but many more are needed. There is more work to be done than we think about on a daily basis. And it has to be done fast. This is a challenge, but we know how to handle challenges.
Jelle JAUBIN – Junior Consultant at Greenfish