ARETI NTARADIMOU PATRICK BAUDUIN
When discussing a fair or just energy transition , one of the first things that comes to mind is energy poverty and inclusivity .
Or rather : how the transition from fossil fuels to renewables should not generate new forms of poverty and inequality .
It makes sense , since today what we call energy poverty affects many areas of our planet .
And I am not referring only to areas in developing countries , such as those in sub-Saharan Africa , where approximately 600 million people still do not have access to electricity .
Instead , I am referring to some areas in the developed European Union , where it is estimated that around 45 million people are suffering from energy poverty . It makes sense , yes , but it is not the only important aspect of the transition .
Indeed , when we discuss the data usage that will enable a just energy transition , ethics come immediately into play .
No energy transition will be just or morally sound unless the question of data ownership is answered in a satisfactory way .
For that reason , various initiatives sprout all over the globe . As far as the European Union is concerned , the first positive steps have been made already with the help of the EU Commission ’ s Strategy for Data
The EC believes a just transition ‘ will depend on establishing effective rules to ensure trustworthy technologies ’.
We hear a lot of talk about empowering consumers to enable the energy transition .
However , in France , Germany , the Netherlands and other countries , those very consumers are developing some resistance against the European energy transition .
Energy bills have risen spectacularly in the recent years , especially in the countries that are frontrunners in greening their energy mix .
High ‘ green taxes ’; the development of wind turbines and solar fields in densely-populated areas or in nature reserves ; laws that force energy consumers to spend large sums of money to adjust their homes : all of these things are making many consumers question whether how ‘ just ’ and affordable the energy transition actually is .
And only now – when these consumers are discovering the true financial impact of the energy transition – it is often too late for them to get involved .
This resistance can only be tackled by being honest about what climate targets mean for consumers and informing end them policy is made .
We must be honest about the costs and consequences of the energy transition , and not surprise – or shock – consumers . We must actively involve them in zoning plans for wind turbines , instead of forcing them in people ’ s backyard .
We must not rule out any energy source from our future power system .
Fully informed consumers will make different choices by being fully empowered . They may , for example , want to see nuclear energy taking a bigger role in the energy mix .
In the end , we all want clean , reliable and cheap energy . But above all , we want a just transition .
Talking about empowering consumers for a just energy transition is one thing – truly empowering them is another .