We are in the midst of the largest energy transformation of our lifetimes. Over the last few weeks, every guest of Electrified has mentioned the importance of equality in energy.
Climate change is already affecting the planet, increasing the likelihood or intensity of events like floods, heatwaves, and drought, and inflicting billions of dollars worth of damage. But climate change does not affect everyone equally.
The hard truth is that some of the progress we push for unfairly punish those who are most vulnerable to a changing climate.
Africa and India aren’t the culprits of climate change. Combined, they have over two billion people that are among the most vulnerable to climate change on the planet, facing the worst impacts of extreme weather, drought, and heat.
They need more energy to fight climate change, not less. They will need to build more resilient infrastructure, new irrigation for their agriculture, and to survive soaring temperatures, will need cold storage and ACs in hundreds of millions of homes, offices, warehouses, factories, and data centers. These are all energy-intensive activities. The developing economies deserve that same capacity for adaptation and growth.
In the western world, we should be aiming for innovation to lower the cost and emissions intensity of energy consumption.
Telecom left poor rural and urban areas behind at the start of the internet age. It’s a gap that still exists today. We should aim to prevent this within the energy transition.
It’s true that poor neighborhoods are more likely to be located near power plants or pollution centers. Unfortunately, it’s also true that we’re designing power markets that reward EV, solar, and storage owners while penalizing those who can’t afford those luxuries.
Moving forward, we must ensure that access to clean energy is ubiquitous and on equal footing for all.
The energy transition is a noble mission, but we must be aware of the traps that await us as we try to power the whole world cleanly.