As world economies and companies stumble punch-drunk through the 2009 global economic crisis, with its associated widespread unemployment misery, it’s perhaps understandable that the once near-holy subject of energyefficiency has taken a back seat.
Against this gloomy financial backdrop, access to finance for major infrastructure investments has proved challenging whilst boardroom uncertainties only add to the nervousness.
Energy markets have been difficult to predict in 2009 and this, coupled with ever-changing prices, has meant thatthe long-term planning of large-scale energy projects has been difficult or, in some cases, ditched completely.
So perhaps it was slightly reassuring that the G8, the group of powerful industrialized countries, recognized that decisive action was needed to ensure that the impact of the economic turmoil and a lack of confidence among developers and investors was tackled with them at the head of a global mobilization.
They were lauded by the International Energy Agency, which acts as an energy policy advisor to 28 countries, who said the G8 “has recognized the need for greater investment in energy to expand employment and ensure resumption in economic growth, while also achieving reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and more secure
“At a time of widespread uncertainty, governments can and must lead the way through increased energy diversification and, most importantly, improved energy efficiency both of which can reduce oil market tightness and volatility said Nobuo Tanaka, the IEA’s executive director.
It is perhaps the latter section of Tanaka’s words, relating to energy efficiency, which are the most pertinent. In an era where chief executive officers may temporarily pay less attention to the environment and more to their profit and loss columns, it is easy to put energy efficiency further down their “Must Do” list.
The G8’s willingness to take the lead in the fight against climate change and for sustainability was backed by a pledge by them to announce a string of integrated industrial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects worldwide by next year. As Tanaka soberly pointed out, “If we do not develop several large-scale integrated CCS demonstration projects within the next decade, we won’t be able to prevent CO2 levels from exceeding allowable limits.” He added, “Time is running out. Strong leadership is essential to prevent this.” And Tanaka and the G8 surely have a valid point. Yes, financial markets are in turmoil and jobs are being lost, but the economy will eventually recover and prosper. However, consider that the same cast-iron guarantees cannot be made for the environment.