Policymakers must offer clarity and coordination to secure net-zero

Government must play a greater role in the global energy market, either through a direct stake or as a co-investor, to support the new emerging energy system, according to a new study by PwC.

The report, Inventing tomorrow’s energy system: The road ahead for molecules and electrons, finds that the growth in renewables, estimated to account for 90% of the global energy market by 2050, and scaling up of hydrogen, will lead to a greener but substantially more complex energy market.

Electrons produced by renewables are set to power factories, heat and cool buildings, fill up batteries that will capture power and become generators and, as electrification hits the transport sector, emerge as the major fuel for cars. While hydrogen will link the electricity and gas markets, allowing for large-scale storage, powering of heavy-transport, and the massive decarbonisation of industrial power demand. Consequently, sectors such as Oil & Gas, Utilities, and Chemicals, which are currently sharply delineated, will begin to converge and form into integrated energy systems over the next decade.

This enormous shift in the global energy sector and the players within it, will require greater coordination and collaboration between government and the market to successfully work towards a greener future.

Dr. Raed Kombargi, Partner, Strategy& Middle East, said: “From South Korea to the United States and Europe, massive economic stimulus is being aimed at building more resilient and sustainable energy systems, providing a new influx of investments aimed at strengthening decarbonisation efforts. The future points towards a much greener system than the one we have today and, from generation to application, a significantly more complex one.

“The development of the new energy system is too complex to leave to the market. Governments will need to take a far more active role in shaping the future and will need to take part either directly or as co-investor.”

To meet global emissions targets, government and business must work together in new, and untested, ways to realise the full potential of renewables. Getting the energy transition right is not only critical from an environmental perspective, but also an economic one.

The report estimates that the cost of transforming the electricity networks in Europe alone will be at least USD$2 trillion over the next 30 years.

It also cites the International Renewable Energy Agency’s forecast that USD13 trillion is required to be spent on power transmission and distribution networks across the globe in the years to 2050.

Dr. Raed Kombargi, Partner, Strategy& Middle East, continued: “As we look ahead to a low carbon future, market participants will need to fundamentally rethink the market-based approach to energy markets, and investors will need to accept the presence of a more ‘visible hand’ guiding and orchestrating the energy transition.

“Innovations from Green Bonds, directly investing in critical infrastructure, to scaling ‘smart’ technologies and modernising operational standards and regulations, all offer governments around the world the opportunity to demonstrate clarity, coordination and ambition in policymaking.”

New data reveals HR leaders’ Coronavirus preparedness

Survey reveals less than 10% of businesses had a workplace / HR policy in place covering a disease pandemic. Approximately 80% now have a policy, or plan to introduce one in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Leading law firm Lewis Silkin today announces the launch of a new benchmarking survey, mapping the preparedness and response strategies of UK HR decision-makers to the Coronavirus / COVID-19 outbreak.

For its first survey of the series Lewis Silkin surveyed an initial group of 65 senior HR leaders and in-house counsel in organisations employing more than 200,000 employees between them and the findings are being presented now to help guide employers as they seek to effectively manage their workplace response to coronavirus.

This comes as the World Health Organisation has confirmed the status of the virus has been elevated to a Pandemic.

HR Policy

58.8% of respondents confirmed that they had implemented a workplace policy addressing pandemic disease in response to Coronavirus. 10% still plan to implement a policy while almost 11% still had no plans to implement a policy at the time of response. Less than 10% had a policy in place prior to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Business Travel

Employers are being cautious with regard to travel. Almost a quarter (24.2%) of respondents have restricted both international and UK domestic travel beyond FCO guidance and a further quarter (25.8%) have restricted international travel specifically beyond FCO guidance.

Remote Working & Self-Isolation

The vast majority (87.9%) of businesses are managing NHS-recommended self-isolation by requesting employees work from home. However, businesses are taking a nuanced approach with a combination of responses being used, including sick leave and sick pay (45.5%) and full pay without work or sick leave (16.7%). 51% of respondents are directing some employees to self-isolate as a precaution beyond government advice while a similar number are allowing employees to choose to self-isolate.

57.7% of polices reported by survey respondents cover employees should their care arrangements break down (such as school closures or family illness).

James Davies, employment partner at Lewis Silkin, commented: “These are unprecedented times and employers are having quickly adapt, evolve or scale up their workplace policies in response to Coronavirus. This is a fast-moving situation and businesses will need to collaborate and learn from each other in order to know how best to move forward, with the wellbeing of staff and business continuity very much front of mind. This is why we have launched this survey, to benchmark and monitor the best practice of some of the UK’s leading HR professionals, and we will continue to gather and disseminate helpful information and guidance to our clients and the wider business community wherever we can.”