We stand at a pivotal crossroads in our global history. Authoritative scientific studies have made it clear that we must reduce or carbon-neutralize our use of fossil fuels and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases; otherwise, we will continue to exacerbate the climate transition. A comprehensive and well-planned strategy is necessary to augment our oil and gas production, focusing on developing and integrating renewable resources into our energy systems without leaving current customers absent the energy they need.
However, the current state of the global energy transition is far from cohesive and can be best described as chaotic. The absence of a well-structured intergovernmental plan is a significant obstacle, as all energy sources must be utilized to support a successful transition. The oil and gas industry has a pivotal role in this transformation, but all stakeholders, including governments, businesses, and individuals alike, must shoulder this responsibility.
Navigating climate change and energy transition challenges
Yes, understanding what the energy transition is and supporting those initiatives are essential to mitigating continued climate change, but it’s important to understand that conquering this shift alone will not solve the entire climate crisis. Let’s dive deeper into these elements and how they relate to future climate goals and mandates.
First, we should acknowledge that the climate has already changed, and we are witnessing the impacts of this disruption in the form of more severe droughts, fires, storms, and other extreme events. Agricultural zones are shifting, glaciers are melting, and ocean levels are rising. Even if we exceed the goals set forth by the Paris Agreement, we will still experience a 1.5-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures and likely more.
The fact remains that climate change is happening, whether you can agree it’s human-driven or part of the Earth’s natural cycle. The primary focus should be on addressing the significant negative impacts it’s already having on human populations and finding ways to adapt and become more resilient. Although it might be tempting to engage in debates about the cause, it’s vital to recognize that change is happening and that we need to act.
This brings us to the second key point: the role of the energy transition in the climate change discussion. We have the power to shape the energy transition, which is vital to reducing the severity of climate change by promoting clean energy adoption and changing infrastructure based on fossil fuel consumption. While the energy transition does not reverse climate change, it can significantly influence the extent of its impacts.
Ultimately, our objective should be to achieve stabilization and establish a new normal. As some studies suggest, reversing the warming trends might take over a century once we reach net-zero emissions. Therefore, we must prioritize the energy transition goals and invest in renewable, carbon-zero energy sources to slow down climate change.
Making progress to shape the energy transition
Looking back at the strides made in the recent past, there are a couple of achievements worth noting.
First, it’s important to recognize how the conversation around climate change and energy transition has evolved. In the past, the primary question was, “Is there really climate change?” Now, our peers are increasingly asking, “What will we do about the change?” This shift in perspective has generated a sense of awareness and urgency, prompting a collective effort among individuals, communities, governments, and businesses to tackle the issue, even if a complete alignment on the cause is absent.
Secondly, you’ve likely observed the surge of investments pouring into technology aimed at reducing the human impacts of climate change. While there are still many non-human-related contributors to climate change, this focus on technology represents a significant step in the right direction. Investments are coming from various sources, such as angel investors, major venture capital firms, public companies, and governments. This broad, international commitment to funding innovative solutions underlines the importance of addressing climate change and the role that technology will play in this endeavor.
Moreover, new energies like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power are gaining momentum, thanks in part to financial subsidies and regulations supported by local, state, and federal governments. These policy measures have helped create a more favorable environment for developing and deploying renewable energy sources, contributing to the ongoing energy transition.
A roadmap to align climate and net-zero goals
Your energy-based company plays a critical role in addressing climate change and advancing the energy transition. To make a meaningful impact, you will have to focus on both short- and long-term priorities that align with climate-related and net-zero goals. Here are three key factors that should guide your decision-making process:
1. Achieve operational excellence
You need to prioritize responsible operations, as the world still relies heavily on your resources. By optimizing your current processes and reducing environmental impacts, your organization can contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable future while continuing to meet global energy demands. Operational technology, data, and machine learning are key contributors, and shifting your organization’s abilities toward prescriptive analytics where automation optimizes on your behalf is your goal.
2. Explore new business models
While alternative energy sources are essential, you must also diversify your portfolio and explore growth opportunities beyond energy. As the world gradually shifts away from hydrocarbon dependence, companies that adapt and innovate will be better positioned to thrive in a changing landscape. Transitioning to a more sustainable future will take time, and developing new business models that support energy transition goals will provide additional revenue streams and bolster resilience. Look to your core competencies to guide you into new industries and opportunities.
3. Reboot your corporate culture
Attracting and retaining top talent is crucial for the success of any organization. You must reevaluate your company culture to ensure it is aligned with the values and goals of the next generation of workers. By fostering a more inclusive and forward-thinking environment, you can tap into a diverse talent pool that can drive innovation and support your transition to cleaner energy sources. Purpose-driven organizations are more than hype – they create the foundation that attracts and retains talent while driving an enterprise-wide focus on key business objectives.
Powering the future
In a nutshell, you have a decisive role to play in shaping the future of our planet. The ongoing energy transition is essential to mitigating the effects of climate change, and it’s up to you to prioritize responsible operations, explore new business models, and reboot your corporate culture to support climate change and energy transition goals.
While the energy transition challenges ahead are significant, we’re confident that the oil and gas industry, in collaboration with governments, businesses, and individuals alike, can work toward a common goal of achieving a more sustainable future. The energy transition is officially underway, and companies that adapt and innovate will be better positioned to thrive in a changing landscape.
Let’s power the future together and make a meaningful difference for generations to come.