Image courtesy of Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, March 11th 2020
As we see a recovery from Covid in some countries and navigate a possible recession, renewable energy and sustainability need to be at the heart of the recovery. The glimpse of fresher air, contrail-free skies, calmer cities and a slower life-style for many people, means that many customers and stakeholders have got used to a new normal.
Meanwhile, the climate emergency has not gone away. If anything, the Covid-19 pandemic has underlined the need to ensure our economy is sustainable and resilient in the long term (see
'Climate Strategies' blog by South Pole's Charles Henderson, Head of Corporate Climate Leadership).
Economists believe the renewable energy industry's increasing ability to attract investment combined with public policy support and prices below those of fossil fuels could spur growth, innovation and employment whilst tackling the climate and air pollution crisis.
The corporate sector will play a great role in powering a green economic recovery. We can see this trend across five continents, where our experts are working with big brands in the technology and consumer goods sectors to engage internal stakeholders on the risks and opportunities of various renewable energy technologies and contracting structures, conduct country-by-country market analysis, set ambitious targets, develop renewable energy roadmaps, and conduct full go-to-market exercises. What these clients have in common is how they value devising a robust plan with our support; one that ensures real impact and the opportunity to Build Back Better.
Traditionally, fossil fuels were seen as more profitable and reliable. However, the tables (and turbines!) have turned. In the first three months of 2020, for example, renewable energy provided 50% electricity in Germany, and solar, wind and other renewable sources recently toppled coal in volume of energy generation in the United States for the first time in over 130 years.
In the UK, Britain is relying on renewable energy like never before. The power generated by clean energy projects eclipsed fossil fuels for the first time ever, making up almost half the electricity used to keep the lights on.
Whilst a recent study by Imperial College London and the International Energy Agency states that renewable energy investments are yielding vastly better returns than fossil fuels in the U.S., the U.K. and Europe, the total volume of investment is still nowhere near that required to mitigate climate change. To hit the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to within 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, countries will need to at least double their annual investment in renewables compared to current levels, from around US$310 billion to more than US$660 billion, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
It has been heartening to see those companies with higher Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) score have performed better through the crisis, even if you take into account the fall in oil price. Harnessing power from sun, wind and water could spur the post-pandemic economy while tackling climate crisis and corporates can play a leading role. To learn how, you can continue the conversation with our renewable energy experts in our
upcoming climate chatter.