A just transition will need to be mindful of the impact of such activities to ensure that the benefits of a low carbon energy system are shared equally .
A just transition poses complex questions at both financial and political levels , where it is essential that it is always remembered that energy is not a commodity – it is a basic right .
When we consider a just transition , the biggest consideration for the grid remains financial , but with the added question : is it fair ?
Even if citizens will pay for the grid evolution in the end , how do we make sure that the vulnerable in society are protected ?
There is also responsibility from the power producer to invest in low emissions infrastructure , with the potential to create jobs in the process . This is also essential in a just transition : we must look at where the responsibility of creating fair and social values lie with each project .
Ending fossil fuel power production is going to result in the loss of millions of jobs worldwide . We must ensure that a greater number of new jobs are created by the transition to green energy .
Many say that the pandemic of the past year will accelerate a green energy transition . Perhaps it will , however if it does , we must also accelerate the re-skilling of the workforce .
As EU legislations are translated at national levels , grid design must keep these just transition principles front of mind .
Grid flexibility must not mean growing the gap between rich and poor . If all new projects – and upgrades of existing infrastructure – start with societal considerations such as creating value for communities , then future investments will follow that route and we will see change .
For me , a ‘ just transition ’ goes well beyond Europe ’ s shores . If we ’ re serious about achieving a just and fair energy transition , it has to be on a global level and have emerging economies at its heart .
And key players in this regard are new ventures , whether start-ups or scale-ups , and their innovative and disruptive solutions .
Many developing regions , such as Africa , are extremely fertile grounds for smart tech start-ups and entrepreneurs developing sustainable solutions to address the energy inequality in those regions .
Although many of these innovators are supported and mentored by private investors , who specialise in emerging markets , as well as government and non-government organisations , to have the greater engagement of the wider investment community and especially more global corporates would unquestionably represent an important step in the right direction to achieving a just transition .
Also , as our collective social conscious grows , there is an increasing number of start-ups within the developed world that are focusing on providing smart energy solutions for developing markets .
A good example of this is Germany ’ s ecoligo GmbH , which offers a fully-financed , via crowdfunding , solar-as-a-service solution to businesses in emerging countries , such as Costa Rica and Ghana , enabling them to not only go green but also lower their energy costs .
However , to truly succeed in achieving a just transition , it ’ s equally important that we see a shift in emphasis from new ventures in Europe or the US .
It ’ s essential now that as start-ups develop and hone their innovation they keep front of mind whether their solution is also translatable for use in developing countries . It ’ s important for them to ask themselves the question : “ How can my solution work in ….?
Once this mind set takes root in our entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Europe and elsewhere in the developed world then we ’ ll truly be one step closer to a just transition .