With the rapid developments occurring globally with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic there are growing concerns about how these will affect the recent efforts and commitments towards a cleaner energy economy. The COVID-19 crisis is impacting every aspect of the economy, with massive impacts on energy markets.
As countries having been shutting down across the world and implementing stricter quarantines and travel restrictions, satellite images are showing noteworthy reduction in air pollution. Experts note however that these declines are just temporary.
Sustainable development together with climate change have over the last years been positioned highly on corporate strategic agendas with many companies making public commitments to transition to clean and renewable energy solutions, some even pledging up to 100% clean energy for their operations. The question is if these targets will remain a priority, given that many organizations may face other pressing challenges including supporting their workforce, addressing social health concerns to ensuring their long-term business viability.
Disruptions in the global supply chain and new working patterns
Energy demand is unpredictable and given that the reduction in oil and gas prices will likely suppress wholesale electricity prices, this will put to the test if companies will keep up their rate of renewable uptake. Furthermore, the unknown effect in corporate demand from disruptions in the global supply chain, travel reduction and shifts in consumption and new working patterns may make it harder to secure capital and financing for future renewable energy projects.
Perhaps the commitment to clean energy will not be impaired following the COVID-19 crisis owing to the fact that many companies leading the charge on renewable procurements are tech giants, such as Google and Microsoft, that enjoy large profit margins and perhaps won’t be as affected. On the other hand, new paradigm shifts may come into play where global and international supply chains will be questioned or cut off and local dynamics may prevail.
It still stands that the long-term benefits of renewable energy will be hard to ignore and positive initiatives including swapping out petroleum-based products for plant-based and sea based alternatives must continue.
For this year at least, the driving catalyst behind clean energy and carbon reduction has turned out to be not our global leaders, nor the CEOs of large corporations but nature itself.
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