Opinion: Renewable energies and natural gas are part of the solution to climate change and energy poverty


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No country was spared from the global pandemic that exposed alarming deficiencies within our deeply interconnected world. Like the virus, carbon emissions do not come with a passport. They do not respect walls or borders. Therefore, it is essential to act with purpose and address global emissions through a new clean energy transition while solving energy poverty. It is also the reason why the US decision to rejoin the Paris Agreement is crucial.

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“Displacing coal and increasing renewables are the most profitable ‘quick climate victories’ for the developing world that enable those nations to reduce energy poverty and build more sustainable communities. ”

Today, the lack of access to affordable, clean and reliable energy exacerbates the human catastrophe and significantly slows down global economic and environmental solutions.

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Patrick Pouyanné (left), CEO of Total. Jeffrey W. Martin, CEO of Sempra Energy Getty Images, Sempra Energy

But we can bounce back by building a thoughtful path to a cleaner, lower-carbon economy that benefits from advancing our current energy mix. Our industry and world leaders, led by the European Union and now united by the new Biden administration, must move forward with the urgency that our planet demands. Breaking News: Senate Confirms Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as Secretary of Energy Global Solution But first, we must recognize that a complex global climate challenge requires a global solution. To accelerate this transition, we must promote a coordinated strategy with the public and private sectors in all countries, including those without access to energy, to drive critical investments that scale renewable and liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure to scale. global. It is critical that we approach this transition challenge with commitment, collaboration, and a long-term vision. Between now and 2040, areas where energy poverty prevails will generate almost 90% of the incremental global electricity demand. This requires a new sustainable ecosystem that expands access to a 21st century energy system to all countries. We know it works. For two decades, the US has already been reducing energy-related emissions through the widespread adoption of renewable energy and the shift from coal to natural gas. Displacing coal and increasing renewables are the most profitable “quick climate victories” for the developing world that enable those nations to reduce energy poverty and build more sustainable communities. For the adoption of renewables to become mainstream, massive efforts are needed to build and modernize grids, as well as to develop more renewables backed by reliable energy storage and natural gas. Maximize Renewables, Ensure Grid Reliability Now, markets like California and Texas, where Sempra Energy SRE, -2.45% is the largest power grid owner, successfully produces 40% of America’s renewable energy. This underscores our ability to maximize renewable energy, while ensuring grid reliability with advanced natural gas and battery storage as low-carbon partners. It is not always an easy balance. Extreme weather can challenge the resilience in our power systems, as we saw in the Midwest and Texas, highlighting the need for adequate base load generation to offset periods of lower renewable energy production. Also read: ‘The sheer number of claims is extraordinary’ – Texans pay a lot for insurance, but will that help them now? This diversification of energy portfolios is critical to the effort, and that is why traditional energy players are dedicating considerable efforts to decarbonizing and expanding renewables. Total’s TOT, + 1.15% recent entry into the US utility scale solar market and its investment in domestic solar power shows how a major oil and gas company can diversify its energy portfolio to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier. Renewables, storage and deployment of natural gas can also unlock the potential of hydrogen. We are at the forefront of hydrogen production and infrastructure globally, including France’s largest renewable hydrogen production facility powered entirely by solar panels.Hydrogen development In addition, hydrogen will promote the natural association between renewable energies and a increasingly decarbonized natural gas system. Even the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe called natural gas infrastructure essential to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. As we seek to transform energy systems around the world, renewable energy and LNG infrastructure have the potential to be implemented to support hydrogen development and improve the resilience of low-carbon energy supplies. Right now, we cannot afford to be at this crossroads and hope for better results. Instead, we must proactively reduce barriers to energy access and coordinate global investment in innovation, renewable energy, energy storage, and LNG infrastructure. With bold action, powerful commitment and collective determination, we can eradicate energy poverty and deliver a cleaner and more sustainable energy ecosystem for all. Jeffrey W. Martin is CEO of Sempra Energy. Patrick Pouyanné is CEO of Total.