November 2021, the world leaders gathered at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference to tighten the emissions targets and to reaffirm the Paris Agreement’s ambition to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. To stay on track, global emissions must halve by 2030.
That alone is an ambitious target to meet while confronting new and additional challenges. Preliminary statistics from the International Energy Agency last year tell an alarming story of the state of the energy transition. Compared with 2020, total energy demand is growing rapidly and returning to the 2019 pre-pandemic level. Most of this growth has been realized with fossil fuels, whose demand is also recovering to the 2019 level.
There is also continuous pressure to increase energy production. Population growth and rising living standards in developing countries result in massive increases in the demand for primary energy.
Now the world must also face the ramifications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The world is urgently striving to break away from Russian energy as Russia is a major exporter of oil and natural gas. Globally, it is once again a new challenge to replace these amounts with production from other countries or new energy sources, if we want to keep the global economy growing. Even in these demanding times, we all want to overcome these challenges, meet emission targets by increasing the construction capacity of the world’s renewable energy production and to keep the energy transition moving forward. That’s why new innovations and investments in renewable energy must be increased dramatically in a few years’ time. The more time we lose, the faster we must invest. But no one can do it alone.
Our climate actions should not stop at our own borders for two important reasons. First, climate change is impacting people in developing countries the hardest. Second, the emissions from our consumer goods are in the country of production, which is often different from the country or even continent of consumption.
We must dedicate enough resources to R&D to bring about the necessary innovations and technological breakthroughs. For example, industrial scale electricity storage would be a game changer for the future of sustainable energy production. Companies and society need to find solutions together to finance R&D.
We at St1 strongly believe that collaboration takes us all further. We have long strengthened our operations through strategic long-term partnerships in various areas and participated in many consortia and partner initiatives that research and promote activities to mitigate climate change.
The energy transition will stay on track if scientists, climate and policy experts, together with organizations, constructively join forces and each party makes its own unique contribution to the collaboration. The collaboration rises to a whole new level of success when we build on each other’s knowledge and capabilities, thereby achieving greater results together
Accelerating the energy transition together In this challenging situation, we must find optimism and together create the sustainable way forward. There are plenty of tools and means to succeed in that.
We need to create, and commit to, a global science-based roadmap, explaining the order of mandatory measures to be taken to reduce the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. The emission reductions must be calculated with standardized methods to verify the actual impact.
Regulation should ensure that the most effective measures are being implemented first, such as preventing the construction of new coal power plants, stopping deforestation and creating carbon sinks allowing extensive afforestation.