7 Challenges for Global Energy Transformation — Rocky Mountain Institute Report

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Seven Challenges for Energy Transformation 2019 | By Rocky Mountain Institute
Seven Challenges for Energy Transformation 2019 | By Rocky Mountain Institute

Seven Challenges for Energy Transformation 2019, a report by Rocky Mountain Institute, was launched during three connected international events in Delhi, Beijing, and New York that convened the world’s leading energy stakeholders and catalysts to kickstart a global effort to accelerate the energy transition and mitigate the climate crisis.

The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) states it succinctly — the world is badly off track. In spite of some parts of the energy system changing and rapidly working towards reduced GHG emissions, the world is still badly off track.  The report explains that to achieve the world’s Paris Agreement goal of limiting global average temperature increase to well below 2°C, top-down government policy actions cannot be expected to deliver the changes needed. Change needs to come more rapidly, in time to offset and slow the most severe consequences of global climate change. The report zeros in on a leapfrog transition to hasten change.

Even with good starts such as the Green Deal from the EU Commission, it is not enough, not far-reaching enough.

RMI understands that due to gravity of the situation, an ungrounded planet is spinning out of balance (in denial, delusion, war, crisis from the effects of fossil fuels, and greed). Of the many nations who are struggling to address issues of security, trade, and economic stability; only a few have the focus and the collective will that is now necessary to make critical changes in energy policy, changes that are required to put energy systems on a path to swifter change in the time frame needed.

“Our analysis and experience suggest that there is another way to get to the goal. This is a path of emergence, sparked by bold and decisive actions on the part of citizens, corporations, philanthropic institutions, subnational leaders, regulators, and policymakers. Meaningful progress to address the climate crisis can emerge quickly from an upwelling of actions taken by leading institutions in the next two to three years—provided these institutions have the will and the capacity to work together in new ways.”

RMI recommends taking a systems approach, a willing collaborative action on the part of industry, government, civil society, and philanthropy. “Because action on these challenges will be strongly synergistic, having a view of the whole can ensure we work more effectively.”

A press release about the report highlights a handful of core areas of importance:

  • Harnessing leapfrog improvements in urban systems and infrastructure to transition to secure, resilient and clean energy communities. This can deliver $2.8 trillion returns by 2030 and $7 trillion by 2050, annually, while reducing emissions by up to 90% over the same time frame. Greater electrification of efficient buildings and transportation systems offers primary pathways for cities to reach these goals and can be accelerated by stronger global networks of cities to support innovation and share best practices.
  • Leveraging state-of-the-art data collection and analysis systems to improve the transparency, accountability and actionability of climate and energy data. A revolutionary “big bang” of innovations can occur by creating an integrated, open-source, global climate data system that puts powerful information in the hands of key actors.
  • Redesigning industry to accelerate emissions reductions in heavy industry, long-haul transportation and aviation to set these sectors on decarbonization pathways. Climate-aligned financial sector commitments, plus policy incentives and market shifts that reward low-carbon solutions, are urgently needed.
  • Accelerating the retirement of fossil fuel assets and increasing investment in clean assets via new tools and methods to manage risk, ensure access to clean energy, reduce transition costs and mitigate negative impacts on affected industries and communities in order to maximize net value creation from global clean energy transformation.

Yet again, here are the 7 major challenges urgently facing society:

1. Making emissions visible

2. Tripling energy productivity gains

3. Electrifying with renewables

4. Reinventing cities

5. Boosting clean technology

6. Redesigning industry

 7. Securing a swift and fair transition

Redesigning Industry6 How do we shift the way we produce, transport, and use energy and materials in global products and infrastructure?
The 1.5°C carbon budget will likely be consumed in the next three decades by commodities and consumer goods alone. Graphic from Seven Challenges for Energy Transformation 2019, by Rocky Mountain Institute

The report is comprehensive, well illustrated, and captures the synergy needed. The full report can be downloaded here.

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Cynthia Shahan

Cynthia Shahan, started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. Words can be used improperly depending on the culture you are in. (Several unrelated publications) She has a degree in Education, Anthropology, Creative Writing, and was tutored in Art as a young child thanks to her father the Doctor. Pronouns: She/Her

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