It’s hard to imagine the way we live and work without energy. For most people, it’s an essential part of everyday life we can often take for granted.
But right now, our energy system continues to rely on the burning of fossil fuels, emitting huge amounts of greenhouse gases that are radically warming and destabilising our climate. We’re seeing more extreme weather events. Previously reliable rains are failing and sea levels are rising.
Beyond these impacts on our climate, millions of people around the world are denied affordable access to sufficient and sustainable energy. The global energy market is increasingly reeling from shocks, with huge societal and economic consequences. And as old sectors make way for new, not least the shift from coal, oil and gas to renewables, we run the risk of millions being left behind.
Simply put, we need to rapidly transition from an energy system that served us well in the last century to one that is fit for purpose in the 21st century.
Promisingly, the world is responding - from the large-scale deployment of renewables like wind and solar and exciting innovations in battery storage and grid flexibility to the emergence of new business models that are fair to consumers and communities.
All are reasons to hope, but are the changes we’re seeing today really enough?
The energy system is at a pivotal crossroads. Its transition will either be deep, deliberate and urgent, tackling the root causes of the challenges we face today in producing and using energy.
Or it will fall short, with ‘solutions’ addressing specific problems in isolation, going neither far enough or fast enough, while simultaneously risking unintended consequences. We cannot retain a concerted focus on deploying renewable technologies while failing to tackle human rights abuses in supply chains; nor should we simply tweak regulatory, market and business models that regularly fail to deliver affordable, sustainable energy to many people around the world.
Which way we go is up to all of us.
Forum’s vision is an energy system that is: radically decarbonised and resilient in a rapidly changing world; depends wholly on renewables and/or other carbon-neutral sources; actively engages those who produce, trade and consume energy in the sector’s development; and prioritises universal energy access by providing affordable, reliable, ecologically safe and human-rights respecting energy.
By 2030, we want to have enabled a socially just and ecologically safe transition to a renewable energy system that works for people and the planet.
To do this, we are focused on three areas where we believe our skills, expertise and experience can make a real difference:
Jonathon Porritt, Co-Founder of Forum for the Future, has been invited by Will Gardiner, the CEO of Drax Group, to convene a High Level Panel of independent experts to conduct an inquiry into Bioenergy, Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS).
Harnessing the power of investors and buyers to ensure the scaling of the RE sector is ecologically safe, rights-respecting, and socially just.
PowerPaired is a new, free online platform which provides a matchmaking service to bring together community energy groups and the owners of sites with potential for renewable energy generation.