The coronavirus pandemic risks canceling out recent progress in transitioning to clean energy, according to the World Economic Forum's (WEF) new report on Wednesday.
The report said that COVID-19 has forced companies across industries to adapt to operational disruption, changes in demand and new ways of working, while governments have introduced economic recovery packages to help mitigate these effects.
It stressed that if these recovery packages are implemented with long-term strategies in mind, they could also accelerate the transition to clean energy, by helping countries scale their efforts towards sustainable and inclusive energy systems.
According to the latest edition of the WEF's Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2020 report, policies, roadmaps and governance frameworks for energy transition at national, regional, and global levels need to be more robust and resilient against external shocks.
WEF's Head of Energy and Materials Roberto Bocca said the pandemic offers an opportunity to consider unorthodox intervention in the energy markets along with 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,” Bocca said.
- 75% of countries improve sustainability
The report also draws on insights from the Energy Transition Index (ETI) 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 show that 75% of countries have improved their environmental sustainability for 2020, even as the global average score for this dimension remains the lowest of the three categories assessed.
"This progress is a result of multifaceted, incremental approaches, including pricing carbon, retiring coal plants ahead of schedule and redesigning electricity markets to integrate renewable energy sources," the WEF said.
"However, this hard-won progress highlights the limitations of relying only on incremental gains from existing policies and technologies to complete the transition to clean energy," it warned.
-Energy Transition Index (ETI)
According to the report, the greatest overall progress can be seen among emerging economies, with the average ETI score for countries in the top 10% remaining constant since 2015, which signals an urgent need for breakthrough solutions.
Sweden leads the ETI for the third consecutive year, followed by Switzerland and Finland. France and the UK are the only G20 countries in the top 10.
The report revealed the performance is mixed among the remaining G20 countries. The trend has been moderately positive in Germany, Japan, South Korea and Russia, but either stagnant or declining in the US, Canada, Brazil and Australia.
It said that India and China have been declared emerging centers of demand through consistent efforts to improve political commitments, consumer engagement and investment, innovation and infrastructure.
Argentina, China, India and Italy are among the major countries with consistent annual improvements. Others, such as Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kenya and Oman have also made significant gains over time.
On the other hand, scores for Canada, Chile, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria and Turkey have declined since 2015.
"The US ranks outside the top 25% for the first time, primarily due to the uncertain regulatory outlook for energy transition," the WEF said.
By Ebru Sengul Cevrioglu