Like everything in life, major societal transitions come at a price. Whether it is a political revolution, an industrial revolution or a digital revolution, the drawbacks of change taint progress with worries of instability and insecurity. However, we must always remember that the alternative is often much worse. The decarbonisation of our industries and lifestyles is no exception. The Peterson Institute for International Economics stated that, “For all the long-term benefits of urgently addressing climate change, economic policymakers must plan for a challenging transition to carbon neutrality. Pretending that the costs will be trivial is dangerous.”
Analogously to food and water security, energy security – or access to reliable and affordable energy sources – is a requirement for the sustainable development and the survival of peoples and nations. A shift in the energy sector is likely to result in fluctuations in cost and energy interruptions as governments adjust to new infrastructure and new supply chains, and adjust to the panoply of novel challenges that accompanies these changes. To make matters worse, the race against climate change leaves little time for a smooth, gradual transition. Challenges such as labour reskilling, new job creation, and the integration of new (often less mastered) technologies will result in times of doubt and disorder. It is important that the negative consequences of this dynamicity be expected and minimized. For instance, the manufacturing of electric vehicles is simpler and less labour-intensive than that of gasoline cars. Although this is a technological “pro,” it is simultaneously an economical “con.”
Discouraging investments in fossil fuel will result in energy shortages and economic instability that is likely to disproportionally affect the world’s poorest. An immense global team-effort will also be required to assure a successful transition to carbon neutrality. The decarbonization plan must be extended to all – advanced and emerging economies – in strategic collaboration, involving the mending of diplomatic relations, technology transfer, knowledge-sharing, etc. Although this might appear ambitious, not to say impossible, in our current international climate, it is to the benefit of all to cumulate efforts and cooperate towards this goal. When considering any of the world’s facets, whether it is world peace, economic growth, justice, security, etc., the long-term consequences of not transitioning to carbon neutrality far outweigh the short-term setbacks it will elicit. Assuring the future of life on Earth is an objective that all entities – all corporations, all governments, and all peoples – should unanimously support and prioritize.
Today, that objective rests on breaking away from the fossil fuel industry and embracing the electrification of technologies and renewable energy sources. Tomorrow, we might be faced with different problematics that will compel us to revisit our decisions, make different changes and face newer challenges. Continued progress necessarily means continued change; the only thing that must remain unchanged is unwavering willingness to accept change time and time again.