March 8, 2022

We won’t achieve the energy shift without greater inclusion, cooperation and fast action

Reflections on energy, democracy and climate on the 8th of March 2022.

We have less time than expected. The recently published Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment report is unambiguous about the threat posed by climate change in the future.Thereport tells us that we have considerably less time than anticipated to ensure the stability of our climate, our ecosystems, and our societies. It further strengthens the evidence regarding the detrimental effects human behaviour has had on nature, resulting in unparalleled climate changes. It also highly stresses the significance of keeping global temperature rise to below 1.5°C as every tenth increase above this level strongly intensifies the damaging climate effects.

In addition to the damaging effects on our nature that we are already seeing, the IPCC Working Group II contribution also point out: “In all regions, health impacts often undermine efforts for inclusive development. Women, children, the elderly, Indigenous People, low-income households, and socially marginalized groups within cities, settlements, regions, and countries are the most vulnerable.”

To complex problems, there are complex answers. Climate changes are affecting the whole world at all levels of society – from the energy industry, which must urgently find ways to orient its long-term strategy towards low-carbon solutions to stay competitive, to citizens whom through their consumption choices influence both personal and societal economy. It is up to all of us, without distinctions, to engage this systemic turn and to find appropriate and sustainable solutions. Yet the leadership in transition strategies remains dominated by a small number of actors.

An almost silent female voice.  Although women represent nearly half of the workforce, their leadership in energy and environmental issues remains extremely low. As NEEN reveals in its recent report on the gender gap in the Nordic energy sector, women hold an equal strategic leadership role in only 5% of the Nordic Energy industries.

Agreements on the global level requires implementation on the local level. In the midst of the energy transition, we are facing global unrest and natural disasters of great proportions. Global trade and availability of cheap raw materials and labour in developing countries have weakened nation’s food and energy self-sufficiency, and thus basic security.

These complex, intertwined issues put a tremendous pressure on democracy and trust in institutions. The polarisation of media has become a debated issue. To protect people and nature, as well as the economy, we might need to re-think the idea of vulnerability to include all humans and nature. We might ask ourselves, who has the ultimate right to shape our future?

The core ideas of democracy and diversity are similar, they allow for a variety of perspectives and opinions and strive towards fair consensus. The energy transition requires technical, economic and societal expertise. Traditionally, technology and economic fields have been lacking women.

Europe proves that it can speak with one voice in difficult times. The war started by Putin’s Russia against Ukraine reminds Europeans of the need to build a united, independent energy Europe. In the long run, the energy transition will ensure our true independence and energy security, as well as aid peace in our region through collaboration with our neighbours.

The current cooperation momentum must also serve as an impetus for actions undertaken for our energy transition. It is imperative that the EU fast forward its green transition, accelerating strategic investments in decarbonized energy and critical infrastructure, find more diverse partners, and look more into local opportunities. We have to use this moment to speed up the transition process and build our energy independence, relying on low carbon energies. It is not only vital to preserve nature, but also to preserve our societies and secure inclusive development.