The COVID crisis could lead to a green energy boom

By Haley Zaremba for Oilprice.com 

The novel coronavirus pandemic has wreaked an historic havoc on global markets, and left economies around the world floundering. The tragedies that have come along with COVID-19 are innumerable, from the more-tan 650,000 people around the world who have lost their lives, to the countless more that have suffered and will continue to suffer from long-term symptoms and side effects and all those that mourn and care for them, to the legions of fired and furloughed workers and economically devastated communities.  While these tragedies should not be minimized and cannot be reversed, the global pandemic has also opened up a unique opportunity for the world to redirect its trajectory for a greener future. The interruption to the status quo, argue many experts, should not be misused or taken for granted. The World Economic Forum has advocated for the development of a “new energy order”and a “great reset”. Furthermore, according to NPR, “around the world leaders see opportunity in the global pandemic to address the other big problem humanity faces: climate change.” These leaders include such big-name international agencies as the United Nations, the International Energy Agency, and the European Union, all of which are either considering or actively drafting green stimulus plans. Even a number of blue chip companies are pushing for a green energy stimulus.

“But here in the United States,” NPR writes, “climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions have not been a part of the $3 trillion in relief packages passed so far.” Time echoed summed up this lack of action in a May article titled “As the Rest of the World Plans a Green Recovery, America Is Once Again Falling Behind.” The United States’ private sector has shown more initiative for a green stimulus than the public sector, with a litany of blue chip companies including Pepsi and McDonald’s going so far as to send a letter to Congress imploring them to take action.

Just this week, Forbes contributed to this global conversation, writing that “if the dramatic economic implications of COVID-19 have taught us anything in the present, it is that in the aftermath of the pandemic we need to shape a new narrative for the future. The crisis has super-charged the imperative to green our economies, pushing fossil fuel markets to the breaking point but also reinforcing convictions that our best chance of recovering is by prioritizing clean, zero-carbon energy.” 

This interruption to the status quo and the widespread failure of the conventional energy sector has given us a unique view into the importance and the resilience of the green energy sector, which has proven to be a major job generator that could help power (so to speak) global economic recovery. The crisis “has done much more than remind us that tackling climate change is essential for business – it has shifted our focus from the short-term costs of the energy transition to the overall “system value” underpinning what’s being called the “Great Reset,” writes Forbes.

Indeed, employment and jobs creation lies at the heart of a sustainable economic recovery. According to PV Tech there is “a raft of new studies” which has “come to underscore the business case of pushing renewables to the heart of the COVID-19 recovery, amid claims green energy plays offer a low-cost, high-return opportunity for investors.” 

In fact, early data from the World Economic Forum’s Industry Action Group shows “the ambitious potential of a green recovery”. As paraphrased by Forbes, the group’s research shows that “a green recovery and power market reform in Europe could create 1.8 million jobs by 2030 and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 71 percent.”

And the implementation of green stimuli will only give us more and more robust data on the holistic and historical impact of “greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water footprints, air quality, health, job creation and resilience” by key green energy technologies such as solar, wind, green hydrogen, and nuclear energy. 

The devastating coronavirus could have a silver lining. It remains to be seen whether world leaders can get behind the “great reset” fast enough to build a cleaner, greener, more climate-friendly future or if a return to the status quo will be accepted as the path of least resistance.

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