Energy and climate I

I consider myself to have spent all my career since I left school (and academia) in the energy industry. It just happens to be the industry that is essentially in the nexus of climate and economics. Which is just as well because I’m trained in economics and have such a keen interest and passion in the subject. Even when it is just a simple mental model that orients us to look into incentives as drivers of behaviours and human decisions, it powerfully describes what happens from scarce number of variables.

The way man’s use of energy have developed throughout history has more or less been the same. It has always been driven by economics, by the productivity gains we have in terms of bringing up the standards of our living, and that in turn grants greater ability to harness more energy and the ratchet turns. Climate turns out to be somehow a victim of this ratchet. It was some kind of collateral damage that appeared small at first and then snowball, and soon it becomes life-threatening. Not to any particular life, but threatening life as we know it. We can no longer ignore it as we face more volatile climate; with one of the hottest summers in Europe just this year, and increasing frequency of supposedly rare flooding events.

As it also turns out, the way we have built our communities, infrastructure, cities are not exactly the most resilient towards climate changes, or natural disasters for that matter. So there are many overlapping problems across energy, economics and climate.

First, we need to be really clear on our strong, aspirational goals around climate change mitigation and adaptation. Next, we need to get the energy technologies, and energy security issues sorted out. Making sure there is good alignment with these goals. Then, we need to make sure we are behind them pushing for the economics to eventually work – just as the non-market forces helped drive space technology and the development of the internet.

Hope to address these in turn for the coming days.