This week I'm bringing in some thoughts on the recent shift in industrial policy in the US and the EU. Both the Biden administration and the von Der Leyen Commission have proposed bold policy proposals to make electric cars dominate by the late 2030s. While I'm skeptical of the ability to meet these goals in such a short time period, it also signals deeper economic policy shifts. So this week I'm going to try to comprehend why this is happening now and what it means for both broader industrial policy - and for capitalism itself.
We delve into the topic of Green Growth and Climate Capitalism. Both the Biden Administration and the von der Leyen Commission - in the Fit for 55, outline the need to dramatically increase electric vehicle production by 2030 with a dominant presence on the roads by mid-2040. In this episode I outline how these policies reflect the emergence of Climate Capitalism which is based in an ideology of Green Growth that sets the EU and US up for a rapid transition towards a cleaner and greener economy by 2040. This desire for a rapid transition contrasts with previous efforts that pushed for a gradual transition.
Climate Capitalism in this episode becomes to be defined as, “A model pushed by the threat of loosing technological and political dominance by the loss of social support for capitalistic modes of production. A technological and resource shift to away from carbon-based industrial development reduces geopolitical and economic risks threatened by climate change and authoritarian regimes.”
In addition, I'm preparing to teach a course on Green Growth in the Central European University EMBA program. So I've brought in some terms and ideas around 'green growth' and how this can help explain these more recent political and industrial pledges to shift to electric cars. As a recognition of the benefits of having a day-job as a professor at CEU, I invited on Professor Maciej Kisilowski, Associate Professor and faculty director of the CEU Executive MBA. At the end of this episode, we have a short ten minute talk about the role of MBA education as a means to gain greater training to help professionals navigate this period of economic transition. From all perspectives we can say 'business as usual' is done - so what skills do we develop to ensure we succeed in this new environment? These we discuss.
Dora Fazekas - Cambridge Econometrics
Biden, in a Push to Phase Out Gas Cars, Tightens Pollution Rules - The New York Times (nytimes.com)
The Electric Vehicle Welfare State - WSJ
(PDF) 'Green' Growth, 'Green' Jobs and Labor Markets (researchgate.net)
Regime resistance and accommodation: Toward a neo-Gramscian perspective on energy transitions - ScienceDirect
This week we speak with Radu Dudau, he is the co-founder and director of the Energy Policy Group in Romania. He is also a professor of International Relations, and has extensive academic and research positions from the United States (Harvard), the UK (Oxford) along with continental universities in Germany, Denmark and Romania.
This week we gain an insight into how Romania is tackling the energy transition. As we learn Romania holds high potential to build a strong renewable energy portfolio with a good natural environment in the Danube delta and investor interests. The European Commission wants to push the country towards 40% of renewables in the next few years. In short, Romania holds the potential to shift away from coal and embrace renewables.
As Radu points out, half of the population lives in the countryside and as my week-long trip through the country showed me, there is a lot of poverty and difference between regions. Romania represents both Eastern European EU member states, but also other Balkan countries who hang onto coal and nuclear power. As we discuss, the money from the EU means financing the transition is not much of an issue, but what is, is the transparent and professional capacity by governments and stakeholders to properly implement projects. What we come to understand in this episode what is happening in Romania and what the impact of the EU is in the country. This will help is to understand broader challenges in both EU Eastern countries and in other Energy Community countries in the Balkans.
I have two key takeaways. First, as Romania's roads indicate, miracles can happen. But as Radu points out, it is not a question of money to build a green energy solution, but competency and transparent governance. An effective transition requires not just a situation or a site that needs assistance, but effective professional capacity on the ground with the money being well spent.
The second, is that while we discuss energy policies, and both of our research is around energy, the subject matter has now changed to be about climate change targets. The energy system for me, was never an isolated system, but an arena where a multitude of processes and issues collide and can be analyzed in a constrained manner. In this interview we delve into energy policies, but these are connected to the climate change goals that are necessary to implement.
This week we speak with Mathy Stanislaus the Director of Public Policy at the Global Battery Alliance.
Today's episode is not what you think. Batteries hold the potential, and I would even say the 'key' to revolutionize our transport and energy system. In this episode, you won't hear about the technological leaps in battery technologies. Instead, you will hear about a sector hearing the call for greater social and environmental responsibility. This needs to be integrated into their entire lifecycle. As Mathy says, companies can no longer paper over their social and environmental responsibilities. That is, firms can no longer pretend they are isolated entities in the value chain, rather, they hold just as much responsibility over the development of their sector as the firms and organizations above, below and next to them.
The Global Battery Alliance is spun out from efforts from the World Economic Forum to address issues of child labor. The central role batteries can play in a clean energy transition tips the producers of batteries into a favorable market opportunity, but they must also clean up their business.
As you will hear Mathy explain, there is global competition developing between countries but also a desire to ensure the pursuit of batteries provides opportunities for all. Verification of the social and environmental impact of batteries, both upstream, downstream and in the reuse of the materials is now central for the sector to demonstrate it is a clean technology. Thus the topic of justice and equity are hit on, but so is the topic of data management and the role that transparent data collection and verification plays in meeting the demands of the Paris Agreement. Our discussion on the central role of data reflects my discussion in the last episode with Marco Schletz, episode 28 around blockchain technology. Mathy hits on the same points about the ability of well-collected data creating more transparency around resource use and efforts to do so on a large meta-scale.
Access to financing now hinges on demonstrating through data, the socially and environmentally sustainable measures each company deploys to ensure they are creating green, clean and equitable energy.
This week we speak with Marco Schletz, a research associate at Data-Driven EnviroLab, and an innovation fellow at the Open Earth Foundation. Marco holds a PhD from the Technical University of Denmark. It is the research for this PhD and the related publications that describes both the present and future uses of blockchain technology as a means for tackling climate change.
In this episode we delve into Marco's research on blockchain and how it can assist verification of projects addressing climate change. This spurs both greater efficiency in oversight and reduces transaction costs for ensuring climate change is addressed through meaningful action.
The purpose of the MyEnergy2050 podcast is to promote meaningful action around climate change. This is why I'm excited to have Marco on to discuss his PhD research on blockchain and the potential it holds to ensure commitments made in the Paris Agreement are fulfilled no matter where in the world the projects are.
Marco and I have a long discussion on blockchain, we cover the basic concepts of what a blockchain is, why it can promote transparency and the problems with our current financial system, which makes financial transactions costly and why blockchain replaces our current bankers and financiers. With blockchain and cryptocurrencies, say good bye to both expensive corporate bank headquarters and the carbon footprint produced from the corp of office workers.
In the first half of the episode we discuss what blockchain is, and we stay largely with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. In the second half, we get more grounded and discuss how blockchain can actually work to connect communities and businesses around the world. Blockchain can hold granular information, so we can actually know, who is making an effort to save the environment for us. So while we fly places, we also buy credits from other places, to mitigate our environmental damage.
A final note, is don't be scared by the terminology in this episode if you don't know what blockchain is. We hopefully explain throughout the episode what it is, and how it works. Marco does a good job of breaking it down by comparing it to waking in a bar and ordering a drink. So if you know how to drink in a bar, you can understand what a blockchain is.
This week I'm providing a bit of commentary on our desire for travel and movement. This seems opportune based on our summer season and how many of us may be heading off for a vacation or holiday. Right now I'm in the Michigan and I'm just about to head back to Hungary. As I outline in the podcast this ability to move, and to move during a pandemic prompts me to think about our innate feelings to move but also the broader political and historical context of movement using different transport modes.
The point of this episode is to just provide you with a bit of thought to reflect on how you are spending your summer and how you may or may not be traveling. My personal situation means I'm caught between two continents with my immediate family on both sides of the Atlantic, and I acknowledge the privilege I have in the travels I do. In this episode I have found someone that beats me hands down in their carbon footprint.
The intent of the MyEnergy2050 podcast is to spread the knowledge about how the energy system can assist our transition towards a greener future.
This week we speak with Agata de Ru who is a Portfolio Manager of the South and Eastern European Region for the Clean Air Fund. In this episode, we take a different turn and go into Agata's background of moving from a Polish NGO to Shell and then her decision to do an MBA in the United States. We learn about her experience working for a US energy start-up. We learn about her decision to leave the US behind and move to Nigeria and join up with local organizations and businesses working with farmers and delivering solar power to consumers across a number of countries.
Before we begin, I want to give a bit some background. Agata and I have known each other for ten years. We were part of the first batch of ELEEP members. This is the Emerging Leaders in Environmental and Energy Policy Network, which began as an initiative of the Atlantic Council and Ecologic and which was funded by the Robert Bosch Foundation and the European Commission. This was a great trans-Atlantic initiative as it really brought together a range of younger people who are still in contact today. Looking back, we can say all of them have built on their ELEEP initiative to shape their lives and careers. My point is these types of initiatives that bring people together in a loosely structured way really make a difference.
As we'll learn from Agata, her work in Europe, the US and Africa built on her ELEEP experience. And it is here where we get to the point of the MyEnergy2050 podcast. We like to share both the knowledge and experience of people making a difference. Understanding how and why people make decisions in their lives to build a better energy system assists all of us in transforming the energy system.
My request to you this week is to help us spread the message of the MyEnergy2050 podcast. Please share this episode or others on LinkedIn or Twitter. We grow by word of mouth. And the longer we do this, our message is becoming clearer. It takes dedication of personal commitment to build and deliver a cleaner energy system. So let's make this happen together.
This week we speak with Professor David Peck, from the Delft University of Technology. In this interview, David recounts his broad experience working both in industry and academia in the area of material sciences and which we now label as the circular economy. It was a real honor to have David on to discuss the circular economy and sustainability in business.
It is hard for me to provide a succinct summary of all the key points, as we really delve into what the circular economy actually is. To draw on David's explanation, in this episode we get into what 'tightening the circle' means in the circular economy. From the mining of rare earth minerals to the fallacy of recycling as a solution to our overconsumption of materials and resources. We uncover what the circular economy is and is not. It is not recycling, but engaging at the design stage to ensure a more sustainable product is made. But again, this is insufficient and greater attention needs to be paid to where the resources are coming from and who is pulling them out of the ground. Hint, China may not be the most socially just place for mining.
Understanding the value chain of products and services is essential for business leaders to shift their companies in time, to be ahead of the social curve, and efforts of competitors. We discuss why there may now be emerging international competition between countries to be the most innovative in securing their lead in sustainable technologies and services. There is not a scarcity of materials, but rather a scarcity in innovative means to develop the products and services we need to deliver a more sustainable economy.
We also address the importance of equity and wellbeing in society. During the interview, I forgot the name of Mark Anielski, who I had on a previous podcast of Energy and Innovation. I can definitely recommend that episode for a similar line of thinking of measuring wellbeing by different metrics.
In the end, David and I come to the conclusion that people need to do sustainability. Listen to the podcast and you'll get to know why educating and helping people is his new mission.
The intent of the MyEnergy2050 podcast is to speak to the people building a clean energy system.
If you like this episode please comment on LinkedIn and share.
How can households afford heating and transport in a low-carbon Europe? Today we speak with Dora Fazekas, the managing director of Cambridge Econometrics in Hungary. Their consultancy just released a scenario report with the European Climate Foundation, outlining the higher costs for households if the price of greenhouse gas emissions rise.
In this interview we cover a range of issues, such as, how understanding the different national energy practices influence how energy is produced and consumed.
We delve into an almost anthropological view of the benefits from researching and living in the same place.
Then we get into the research scenario report on transport and heating. The scenarios demonstrate the impact of rising prices for the European trading system for emissions. The future demonstrates the price of energy will go up. Households are foreseen to be struggling unless a greater political effort is made to assist those with lower incomes.
My take-away from our discussion is Europe is heading for a very expensive energy system to meet its climate change goals for 2050. The burden will fall on poorer households. The warning signs are already here for national governments and the EU, action is needed to ensure households can afford this transition.
The study provides different national comparisons and we discuss the impact in Poland and Germany. The scenarios demonstrate that coal, or even a switch to gas for heating, will be a very expensive options in the future.
In the end, we get back to the unattractive and unexciting option of energy efficiency as the way forward. Subsidies for energy poor households are needed. While the rich can afford the transition, it is those with meager incomes that cannot afford it.
Here, I want to interject the importance of this topic. The scenarios are based on data and envision a future where the poor struggle to pay for heating and all their energy usage. If the EU wants to be the enforcer of climate change goals, they also need to ensure effective policies are in place. There cannot be an opening for radical populist politicians to derail, steal, or use climate change policies as a means to undermine democracy. If the stated goal is creating a zero carbon future then ensuring affordable access to energy needs to be the priority. Focusing only on price and market mechanisms will leave too many people behind and derail the effort.
This week we are delving deeper to understand how oil and gas companies are being pushed by activists and investors seeking to up-end the carbon economy. Industries emitting carbon are not only bad for the environment but bad for long-term shareholder value.
We discuss why a capitalist system with people, the planet and profits aligning can save the Earth. We pursue this line to understand how these actions are radical interventions that seek to change the people hanging onto the carbon economy.
Radical share value delivers a new economic system that values long-term financial returns utilizing greener technologies. Central to this model are people who understand money is to be made in green technologies, not carbon-spewing technologies.
The intent of the MyEnergy2050 podcast is to spread the knowledge about how the energy system can assist our transition towards a greener future.
In this episode, we speak with Rod Janssen, a long time expert who began his career after the oil crisis of the 1970s. Rod may have decades of experience, but he is still young and stays active with the latest research and policy developments in energy efficiency.
I wanted to have Rod on to discuss both the recent history around energy efficiency and whether EU policy is making an impact. As you'll hear we are a bit critical of the EU and the Member States for the lack of progress.
There are a number of terms that will probably be new to the listener and not everyone may know them. The first is USAID, which is the United States Agency for International Development. It sounds like an organization for Africa, but it was active in Eastern Europe - and still is in non-EU member states. After countries in the East joined the EU, USAID moved on, thinking the EU would assist in development. We have a few words to say on how well the EU took on its role to promote energy efficiency.
We discuss the 'acquis', which is "the body of common rights and obligations that are binding on all EU countries", which now is being stressed by some countries. But there was a time when the former Communist countries transformed their economies and legislation to make it look like they could be good EU members. They did a tremendous amount of good in revamping public administration and shifting economies onto a market footing.
Rod and I discuss these topics and we also cover how energy efficiency policy making has changed in the EU and where it is going. That 2050 goal? Is enough being done? Rod has an opinion. Community engagement? We discuss this too.