Public and Private Collaboration Is Key to the Clean Energy Drive
According to the UN Environment Program, we’re on track for an increase in global warming of 2.8oC to 2.9oC unless there’s a collective, system-wide effort to rapidly accelerate the reduction in CO2 emissions.
In this blog, I look at how the public and private sector are working together to deliver long-term energy solutions in Ireland.
Public sector action
Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2023 commits to the goal of halving Ireland’s carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving Net Zero by 2050.
Since power generation contributes about 55% of the world’s CO2 emissions, achieving Net Zero requires a global transition to renewable clean power. Ireland is playing its part by committing to a 75% reduction in emissions from power generation by 2030. The other 45% of global carbon emissions are generated by production and growing food, meaning that the circular economy and regenerative agriculture will need to be central to Ireland’s future.
In 2021, renewables accounted for 13% of all Ireland’s energy requirements. The Irish government has plans to accelerate the delivery of renewable energy to generate 9 GW of onshore wind, 7 GW of off-shore wind, and 8GW of solar energy by 2030.
It also announced a zero rate of VAT on the supply and installation of solar panels in homes, which would reduce installation costs in the average home by €1,000. The government also plans to fit solar panels on all schools, which would save money on school budgets, reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions, and educate young people with a highly visible example of how to address the climate crisis.
However, to achieve the goal of Net Zero by 2050 governments will need to work in partnership with enterprises and consumers. Companies through their energy use in production, heating buildings, and transport are responsible for 60% of global emissions, so their response to the climate crisis is critically important.
Companies cannot afford to be complacent since consumer attitudes around the world to carbon pollution are hardening.
As part of a 2023 series of “Green is Good for Business” publications, Huawei’s business research lab in Ireland recently commissioned GSMA Intelligence to conduct research in 16 countries across the world on consumer attitudes to climate change. This survey found that despite other significant global events, a large majority of consumers in every country said that climate change was the most pressing global challenge. The same survey found that over 40% of consumers are prepared to pay extra for products that are certified carbon neutral. Given that a large number of people are currently struggling with the cost of living, this is a remarkably high number.
Figure 1: Research on consumer attitudes by GSMA Intelligence
What is the private sector doing?
According to MSCI ESG only about 16% of leading companies are aligned to the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5oC (as shown in Figure 2) and by their calculations, we’re on track for 2.9oC global warming.
Nevertheless, in Ireland many large enterprises have committed to reducing their own carbon emissions and those of their customers and suppliers. The Irish operator Eir, for example, has modernized its fleet of vehicles so that they are all either full EVs or hybrid petrol-electric vehicles. And in partnership with EasyGo, it is transforming 180 old phone boxes into rapid charging points.
Figure 2: MSCI ESG research on businesses and climate change
What’s Huawei’s strategy?
Huawei has a long-term commitment to reducing our climate impact in production, operations, and throughout the lifecycles of our products and services, a strategy that we seek to extend across our supply chain.
In June 2021, Huawei established its Digital Power unit to develop digital power products and solutions.
The unit aims to integrate digital and power electronics technologies, develop clean power, and enable energy digitalization. In the clean power generation sector, Huawei helps create new power systems that primarily rely on renewable energy, especially solar energy. By the end of 2022, Huawei Digital Power had helped customers generate 695.1 billion kWh of green power and save 19.5 billion kWh of electricity.
These efforts have offset 340 million tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent to planting 470 million trees.
If the role of the public sector is to provide policies that stimulate the development and creation of long-term energy solutions, then it is the role of the private sector to capitalize on this and position digital technologies as an essential facet of clean energy transition.
Ireland and the EU have been making progress in the development of renewable power assets with a number of key policy decisions. In 2020, the Irish government launched the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS), which aims to provide financial support for the development of renewable energy projects, including solar. RESS was designed to incentivize the development of sustainable and renewable energy sources, and is a forward-looking strategy to meet the long-term energy needs of Ireland. It also gives a level of certainty to the private sector and allows companies like Huawei to help contribute to Ireland’s new green energy transition, especially through our Solar PV solutions at both residential and commercial scale.
Now is the time to act
Climate change is a formidable challenge to our current linear ‘take-make-waste’ economy and humanity’s long-term well-being – it’s estimated that up to 3.6 billion people live in settings vulnerable to climate change.
Decarbonization and digitalization, two key trends in this transformation, will be crucial for sustainable development. Now more than ever, we need to reassess our relationship with nature and move faster towards low-carbon and green development models.
And collaboration between the public and private sector is key to achieving that.
Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.