The COP of Action — Focusing on Implementation in an Uncertain Energy World

As the evolution of the U.N. climate effort continues, this year’s 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) in Marrakech, Morocco proved to be an important transitional step, rotating away from the years of negotiation that produced the Paris Agreement to a new phase focused on implementation.

To understand the true scale of the challenges we face, we must envision a fundamentally new world for the energy sector–one where the demand for electricity could double by 2060. We at BDI understand that meeting this demand with cleaner energy supplies will require significant and substantial infrastructure investments, creating both new opportunities and challenges for the energy sector as well as the global business community.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016 began at dawn for BDI, as ambitions remained high and Parties embarked on the second week of COP 22 negotiations. Building on the momentum from the previous week, BDI, in collaboration with our colleagues at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Energy Council (WEC), jointly held a breakfast briefing entitled “Climate Crossroads—A New Approach to Resilient Energy Systems.” Our distinguished panel of speakers and diverse audience members sacrificed sleep to spend the morning with us. Instead, they were eager to engage in a fruitful discussion on how the world’s industry leaders can foster the transition to a more resilient energy system.

The breakfast briefing began by focusing on WEC’s World Energy Scenarios 2016—Modern Jazz, Unfinished Symphony and Hard Rock. Those scenarios provide energy and climate decision makers with a framework, in musical terms. To assess current events effecting today’s energy sector, gauge what will happen in the future, and better understand the impact of today’s choices on tomorrow’s climate policy. Each of the three scenarios highlight the potential shortfalls in pursuing a resilient energy sector that must also remain cognizant of access to affordable energy, security of supply and environmental and climate integrity.

The private sector is aware of the critical vulnerabilities and existing adaptation opportunities for the energy sector. National investment policies require a strong and comprehensive policy framework—one that must be predictable enough to provide business certainty, yet flexible enough to adapt to the changing circumstances of an uncertain energy future. In turn, national governments must ensure that their laws and regulations dealing with investments and investors are clear, readily accessible, and do not impose unnecessary burdens on the business community. 

A resilient energy system must address adequately, and in a coherent manner, the introduction of efficient technologies. It must clearly identify opportunities to scale up investments and reduce risk. We understand that a changing climate means that uncertainty has become the new certainty. This means that to mitigate the risks associated with such uncertainty, we need resilience. 

With this in mind, the overarching message from the morning became clear—while no one has a crystal ball, in an uncertain world only strong global cooperation and a coherent policy framework for investment can enable a resilient energy system and affect real, global change.