- Change is in the air.
- Unlike the 1970s, the demand for fossil fuel is unlikely to rebound.
The health, social and economic impacts of Covid-19 will reverberate for generations to come. But there are many things that the pandemic has accelerated that we must applaud.
High on the list of things we must applaud is the inevitable digital transformation in education. Embracing technology in education has the potential to make learning both personalised and deeply collaborative. Digital learning will enable immersive and meaningful learning, making the learner, not the teacher, the driver of the education experience.
It is unlikely that corporations, governments, development organisations and to some extent academia, will return to dizzying travel schedules. Virtual meetings have proved to be very effective, thanks to Covid-19. The aviation sector has been ravaged by the pandemic. Airport Council International – World predicts a reduction of more than 4.6 billion passengers in 2020.
There is no doubt that fossil fuels oiled the engines and gears of unprecedented social and economic progress in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, in the 21st century, fossil fuels account for 85 percent of global energy supplies. Global geopolitics is dangerously shaped by fossil fuels. But change is in the air.
As Covid-19 wreaked havoc on the global economy the demand for fossil fuels plummeted. The International Energy Agency projects that global demand for oil will fall by 9.3 million barrels per day, year-on-year in 2020. Oil prices crashed in the wake of the pandemic and are now just scrapping $40 a barrel. Oil-producing and exporting countries need prices to average about $75 a barrel to balance their domestic budgets.
Unlike the 1970s, the demand for fossil fuel is unlikely to rebound. Moreover, the drop in oil prices is not temporary because the price crashes are demand-led. For example, while the demand for fossil fuels fell precipitously, the share of wind and solar energy increased by nearly 40 percent in the USA and in India by 45 percent. In the wake of the pandemic, Germany, Italy and Spain set new records for integration of renewable energy to the grid.
Capital markets have shifted and clean power stocks are up by 45 percent. Renewable energy has become the preferred choice for new power plants by investors. In her state-of-the-union address in Brussels, the EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent over the 1990 levels in the next 10 years.
While a senseless bipartisan debate on clean energy rages in the US, China races ahead as the largest manufacturer of clean energy technologies: wind turbine components, lithium-ion batteries, LED packages and crystalline PV modules.
Unlike fossil fuels, most countries can attain energy security because renewable energy sources – wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower and tidal energy – are ubiquitous.
Posterity is beckoning our generation to transition from toxic fossil fuels to clean safer and renewable energy. We owe future generations a healthy and sustainable planet. It’s our solemn duty to keep global temperatures below 2 degree Celsius to avert economic collapse and ecological catastrophe.