MEA Energy Week Day 3 Summary

Cop27, future generations and skills

Wednesday, 29 June, 2022

On the third and final day of the MEA Energy Week, we looked at expectations for the COP27 Conference in Egypt this year, whether the global supply chain crunch was derailing or accelerating the energy transition and the important role that humans will play in bringing about an urgent yet just energy transition, in terms of their skills, ingenuity, behaviors, and adoptions. 


COP for implementation

Lead Negotiator for COP 27, Egyptian Ambassador Mohamed Nasr, said the climate crisis impacted all people and sectors of the economy, and as such, it provided “an opportunity to speed up the transition”. The two main themes of the COP27 Conference would be energy security, and food systems and security, in the context of rapid climate change. Leaders from all spheres will discuss the most urgent climate change mitigation themes, solutions, and implementations, in line with their governments’ net zero commitments. 

Crisis as an accelerator

Paddy Padmanathan, CEO of ACWA Power and Khaled Sharbatly, Group Chief Investments Officer of Desert Technologies, agreed that the global supply chain crunch was likely to cause a two-year setback for the global energy transition, but that five years from now, it was likely to cause an acceleration of the new green economy. “Crisis offers opportunity. We’re in the right place at the right time in history to solve this crisis. The energy demand is there. What we need now is clarity on policies, (green commodity) price clarity, institutional support (for green industries), and we need to rethink conventional indexing models for inflation and how we deal with supply chain shocks,” said Padmanathan. Sharbatly said he believed “localization is the way to go” for all countries to mitigate against import and export bottlenecks. He argued that the world is now ‘in the decade of smart infrastructure, digital energy and smart mobility. “The growth of these three sectors will be a game-changer, and will be as fast and advanced as the growth of analog to smart phones a few years ago,” Sharbatly said. 


“Our view is the supply chain crunch will not go away quickly - crisis is the new normal. We need to find out where the bottlenecks are and address gaps. We have to act in a concerted way,” said Thorsten Weiss, head of Logistics at Siemens Energy. “Global crises trigger heavy inventions - now money must flow where the innovation can kick it.”


Skilling up

“We don’t talk enough about how we should center our (climate change) solutions on people and their specific needs. Technologies and processes need to be centred on people,” said Prof. Lwazi Ngubevana of the Wits Business School in South Africa. In agreement, Vinod Philip, CTO of Siemens Energy, explained: “When we look from the Siemens Energy perspective, there are always three vectors we consider: Sustainability, Reliability and Affordability of our energy products.” Commenting on what the ‘green skilling’ revolution would take, Sallyann Della Casa, founder of the human skills workforce training platform, said: “It’s not just about hardware and hard skills, but also about software and soft skills. Also, for energy supply and demands to fundamentally change, we need to change consumer behavior.”


Influencing the change

Social media influencer Anas Marwah and ocean cleanup entrepreneur Joel Michael agreed that their generation of GenZs were not in denial about climate change, but more could be done to influence their behaviour in innovative ways to make a real and lasting difference to how they consumed energy, disposed of trash and lived sustainably. Mitigation strategies needed to move away from the non-profit to for-profit-for-good model to achieve sustainability, Michael said. “A beach clean-up is great, but it isn’t a lasting solution - we need to be proactive, not reactive, and highly innovative in our solutions, especially in terms of enabling behavior change,” said Philip, whose company develops user-friendly waste disposal systems and crowd-engineered autonomous boats to clean up the oceans. 

Middle East & Africa Energy Week 2022

Connect with 40+ senior leaders from the energy industry to discuss topics around energy transition and decarbonization.