The UK and EU share the same vision of a brighter, more sustainable green future. Before the pandemic, the EU has been planning a €70 billion investment on a new research and innovation initiative called Horizon 2020. The post-Brexit UK won’t let up and is also committed to reaching the net-zero figure on greenhouse emissions by 2050.
As a matter of fact, the UK and EU both endorse decarbonization policies as an important pillar for future economic developments. Looking at their shared clean-energy vision, one might say they’re in love, and up against half of the world, US and China giants included.
Anyways, let’s stop fantasizing and get back to planet Earth where Coronavirus is happening, posing the greatest challenge to green energy and decarbonization sectors yet. In a recent public letter, Boris Johnson was urged to take into consideration the green sectors while planning for the COVID-19 recovery path. However, is it really possible?
The junction of COVID-19 and #Brexit has hit hard on the UK economy, although many seem to have forgotten about the latter and its effects. So here comes le coup de foudre!
In a post-COVID-19 world, are saving the planet and saving the #economy mutually exclusive?
The Coronavirus pandemic has cut deep into the worldwide #economy, companies are trying to handle cashflow problems, distribution system disruptions, rerouting customer paths and the list can go on. The government has released backed loan schemes, to help SMEs get back on their feet. Everybody seems to be concerned about short-term fixes, but if you listen careful enough, the green sectors are also asking for attention.
…and listen we should, or should we?
This is a conflict of two needs: the need for a sustainable future and the need for a short-term economic fix, but maybe there’s a converging point in there.
Are clean energy and decarbonization “COVID-19 compliant”?
To properly answer this question in a page, we cannot, but we’d like to touch on a few key points, and maybe find a new growth point in these sectors.
The decarbonization sector is policy endorsed both in Europe and the UK. It’s been one core component and operative concept to be implemented in the European broad strategy. It still demands further decisions, investments and leadership, but it exists, and could pose as a serious incentive for manufacturers who want to engage in clean energy products.
Therefore, there are some important vectors to support decarbonization across Europe and in the UK:
Customers still demand carbon-friendly products
The carbon regulations on emissions could prove very expensive in the long-term
Investors are interested in environmentally-focused companies on the long term.
Nevertheless, there are some challenges here as well for SMEs who:
Do not have enough funding for new production lines
Have less incentive for green manufacturing if the UK government or EU commission relax the regulations because of COVID-19 (and the whole sector might lose the momentum)
Are too small or dependent to fit in the supply chain of a broader project
All in all, focusing on a company which is in the supply chain of the decarbonization effort might be a good direction to follow in the future.
The smart, renewable energy is an irreversible trend in the whole energy industry, and it looks like the EU and UK will keep funding it, despite the decarbonization difficulties happening in a post COVID-19 world.
Why shouldn’t they, since the whole purpose of the new technologies in the energy sector is to bring about not only a cleaner consumption, but also better management and more efficiency to reach the ultimate purpose: lower cost per energy production?
It is true, there has been a serious decrease in demand due to the economic downturn brought about by the new-old pandemic. However, we are currently living in an ever-changing, highly-volatile economy, where the work and travel patterns caused by the COVID-19 are changing, and this might definitely lead to different patterns of energy demand, that the clean energy sectors could fill.
So, the opportunity is there; it is possible to move on to a smarter energy system which can promote a more active balancing of demand and supply at a local or community level.
Nevertheless, the discussion is longer than this, and we’ve worked on a whole E-book on the future relations between EU and UK in the light of the Coronavirus pandemic and #Brexit. There are beautiful shared visions, but also red flags that need to be raised.