World in one of the most severe energy crises since 1970s: WEF

The Head of Energy warned that countries are at risk of disrupting of their energy supply chain at a time when the window to prevent the worst consequences of climate change is closing fast.

Shefali Rekhi

Shefali Rekhi

The Straits Times

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UN Secretary General Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the short-sighted rush to fossil fuels such as coal and LNG as "madness". PHOTO: REUTERS

May 23, 2022

SINGAPORE – The war in Ukraine, as well as the pandemic and the quick economic rebound in its aftermath, significantly disrupted energy transition efforts.

This has left the world in one of the most severe energy crises since the 1970s, said the World Economic Forum (WEF) in a new report titled Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2022.

The pace of energy transition needs to be supercharged for the world to keep to its sustainability goals, it noted.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres drew attention to the energy crisis in an address last week (May 19), noting that Russia’s assault on Ukraine will likely have major implications for global heating targets.

Many countries are stepping up the use of coal or imports of liquefied natural gas as alternative sources to Russian energy, he noted, calling the short-sighted rush to fossil fuels “madness”.

WEF, in its latest energy transition report, called for urgent action by both private and public actors to ensure a resilient transition.

This “urgency for countries to accelerate a holistic energy transition is reinforced by high fuel prices, commodities’ shortages, insufficient headway on achieving climate goals and slow progress on energy justice and access”, it said.

Mr Roberto Bocca, head of energy, materials and infrastructure at WEF, said: “Countries are at risk of future events compounding the disruption of their energy supply chain at a time when the window to prevent the worst consequences of climate change is closing fast.”

He added: “Now is the time to double down on action.”

WEF’s report detailed key recommendations for governments, companies, consumers and other stakeholders on measures to advance energy transition.

Countries will need to prioritise efforts to ensure a resilient energy transition and diversification of the energy mix, it stated.

Diversification needs to be pursued on two fronts: Countries need to review their domestic energy mix and consider their fuel and energy suppliers in the shorter term.

Most countries rely on just a handful of trade partners to meet their energy requirements and have a deficient diversification of energy sources, providing limited flexibility to deal with disruptions, said WEF.

The report noted that of 34 countries with advanced economies, 11 rely on only three trade partners for more than 70 per cent of their fuel imports.

More countries need to make binding climate commitments, create long-term vision for domestic and regional energy systems, attract private-sector investors for decarbonisation projects and help consumers and the workforce adjust, the report added.

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