Fundamental Principles of a Fossil-Free Recovery. How has the Covid 19 pandemic created a window of opportunity to fund a green recovery. Subscribe to Electric Vehicle News Bitesize Podcast for FREE!
COVID-19 has changed our view of the future, from what kind of energy we will use to how we will use it. Due to the pandemic, people use more energy at home and travel less, if any. Although we all hope that these conditions are temporary, they may lead to long-term behavioral changes in energy use. With the development of the energy sector, the government has the opportunity to plan wise policies to encourage the shift to cleaner forms of energy and higher efficiency.
We have seen the government use the COVID-19 recovery plan to invest a lot of money in the energy sector. In general, countries that have already supported the clean energy transition continue to support the clean energy transition by investing in renewable energy or electric vehicles. At the same time, countries that rely on the fossil fuel sector are spending a lot of stimulus money on non-renewable energy. The pandemic puts us at a crossroads, and the government’s decision now will have a huge impact on the clean energy transition.
This is an opportunity to plan for economic recovery, create jobs by accelerating the transition to clean energy, while ensuring that the transition from fossil fuels is fair. This means that as we develop new ways to strengthen the economy and conduct business, transformation should create opportunities to develop a fairer and more inclusive society by considering people and communities.
This means we need to stay away from fossil fuels. This does not mean that our activities will stop suddenly. This is about using climate-friendly and cleaner alternatives to traditional energy sources. For example, instead of investing in new coal or natural gas power plants, countries can invest in wind turbines, solar panels, and power grids. Instead of subsidizing gasoline and diesel, the government can buy electric buses for cities where people use this type of public transportation.
There are many other options and examples. But one thing is certain: the role of government is crucial because they define policies and determine the use of public funds. In general, they can exchange this expenditure for clean alternatives instead of supporting fossil fuels.
Our report “Achieving Fossil-Free Energy Recovery” advocates five main principles.
Fundamental principle 1. Stop using stimulus funds to maintain fossil fuel production, especially if the funds do not help clean transition.
Fundamental principle 2. The government should reform fossil fuel subsidies or implement taxes to increase revenue for the transformation of the industry. These measures help reflect the true cost of fossil fuels to society: they cause climate change and air pollution, and bring high health and economic costs.
Fundamental principle 3. The government should not subsidize fossil fuels. Instead, the funds should be exchanged for cleaner alternatives to achieve net-zero goals and better meet people’s needs.
Fundamental principle 4. The government should encourage private investment in clean energy.
Fundamental principle 5. While formulating these measures, the government should consider the impact on workers and communities to ensure a just transition.
Rather than trying to persuade them, we must also help them see that no matter what actions they take, change is taking place. Every day, more and more insurance companies and investment funds choose to diversify their funds from the fossil fuel industry. But at the same time, we know that this is not easy, and many people and companies will be greatly affected. On the other hand, there will be new industries that require workers and investors.
The main message to the government is that planning for the transition is possible. This is the key word: plan. All social, environmental and economic risks must be considered and mitigated as much as possible. To do this, planning must be rooted in dialogue between different groups that may be affected by the transformation. This is what we call a “just transition”
This is possible if we consider the local context and priorities. Africa, a large part of the population does not have access to electricity or even clean cooking fuel at home. There is no point in promoting the purchase of electric vehicles there. But the non-fossil energy transition also means increased access to clean energy. The government can invest in community solar power plants instead of expensive diesel generators.
They can also eliminate subsidies for transportation fuel. This measure is unpopular because it causes the price of gasoline and diesel to rise. But the fact is that the affluent class benefits most from gasoline and diesel subsidies because they own cars. The government should subsidize various forms of clean public transportation or provide cash transfers to people who will be directly affected by price increases.
Studies have shown that improving access to public services (such as health or education) is good for people who suffer from fossil fuel subsidy reforms. In the end, there are many options, but careful analysis and understanding of local conditions are essential.
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