COVID-19 will compromise the transition to clean energy without urgent stakeholder action, says report

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THE CORONAVIRUS pandemic risks cancelling out recent progress in transitioning to clean energy, with unprecedented falls in demand, price volatility and pressure to quickly mitigate socioeconomic costs placing the near-term trajectory of the transition in doubt.

Policies, roadmaps and governance frameworks for energy transition at national, regional, and global levels need to be more robust and resilient against external shocks, according to the latest edition of World Economic Forum’s Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2020 report.

Roberto Bocca, Head of Energy and Materials, World Economic Forum, commented on the report: “The coronavirus pandemic offers an opportunity to consider unorthodox intervention in the energy markets and global collaboration to support a recovery that accelerates the energy transition once the acute crisis subsides.

“This giant reset grants us the option to launch aggressive, forward-thinking and long-term strategies leading to a diversified, secure and reliable energy system that will ultimately support the future growth of the world economy in a sustainable and equitable way.”

The report draws on insights from Energy Transition Index 2020, which benchmarks 115 economies on the current performance of their energy systems – across economic development and growth, environmental sustainability, and energy security and access indicators – and their readiness for transition to secure, sustainable, affordable, and inclusive energy systems.

The results for 2020 show that 75% of countries have improved their environmental sustainability, even as the global average score for this dimension remains the lowest of the three categories assessed.

The greatest overall progress is observed among emerging economies, with the average Energy Transition Index score for countries in the top 10% remaining constant since 2015, signalling an urgent need for breakthrough solutions – one threatened by COVID-19.

Sweden (1) leads the  Energy Transition Index for the third consecutive year, followed by Switzerland (2) and Finland (3).

France (8) and United Kingdom (7) are the only G20 countries in the top 10.

They share common attributes, such as limiting energy subsidies, reducing reliance on imports (thereby improving energy security), achieving gains in energy intensity of GDP, and increasing political commitments to pursue ambitious energy transition and climate change targets.