Another question that has been raised by some observers is whether we should be concerned that the drive for change post-COP26 has been derailed to some extent by issues that have emerged since – political, economic, and of course war in Ukraine.
In response to this, Quinn suggests it is too early to say. “On the positive side there has been action at EU level on renewables and a new focus on energy security, of course. So you could argue that some of these post-COP issues are driving the sustainability agenda even harder. You could argue that they focus the mind somewhat. Whereas we’ve always had this relatively secure supply of energy, with the current geopolitical issues we now face – and the wider impact of climate change underway anyway – we’re going to continue see pressure building for action. So, I think the jury’s out on whether our current situation will be a force for the positive or the negative.”
Put in the simplest terms, we have a critical global imperative – to make the world greener – overlain by a host of other issues and demands. To ensure we respond appropriately on the necessary timescale to that imperative, do we need some sort of centralised driver that works to make all this happen? And if so, is that a role for industry or government?
After a moment to reflect, Quinn says: “I think it needs more government intervention, woven into a network with the industry to create the right long term market environment for investors and innovation. Long term policies and frameworks are required to provide confidence. Organisations and businesses leading the charge should be assessed and recognised in a consistent manner.
So how do you get that to happen? “Definitely a challenge,” he continues, “but perhaps government at senior level, plus key industry, and academic organisations. And it would be important to be inclusive, covering all types of organisations and all sizes.”
This is all a huge challenge, but action – and support for action - is critical. We can point to areas of progress and celebrate them; but leaving large parts of this challenge to the market to figure out what to do and when seems a little risky. Happily, though, we have companies like EQUANS helping to lead the way.