Seven Challenges for Energy Transformation

Source: Rocky Mountain Institute, November 2019

While some parts of the energy system are changing rapidly toward reducing GHG emissions, the world is badly off track from what is needed to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global average temperature increase to well below 2°C. Top-down government policy actions cannot be expected to deliver the changes needed in time to avert the most severe
consequences of global climate change. Many nations are struggling to address issues of security, trade, and economic stability; only a few have the focus and will now necessary to make the major changes in energy policy that are required to put energy systems on a path to real change in the time frame needed.

Our analysis and experience suggest that there is another way to get to the goal. This is a path of emergence, sparked by bold and decisive actions on the part of citizens, corporations, philanthropic institutions, subnational leaders, regulators, and policymakers. Meaningful progress to address the climate crisis can emerge quickly from an upwelling of actions taken by leading institutions in the next two to three years—provided these institutions have the will and the capacity to work together in new ways.

Taking a systems view, we identify seven key places in the global energy system where solutions are within our reach but not yet at hand. This framing is a starting point, not a definitive set of answers, to catalyze better understanding, alignment, cooperation, and faster action. Perhaps
most importantly, this work will help us think more clearly about how the different parts of the system are linked, and therefore how our actions can be more strategic and focused. Because action on these challenges will be strongly synergistic, having a view of the whole can ensure we work more effectively.

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