TIME panel discussion

The measure of a man is what he does with power — Plato (428/427–348/347 B.C.E.) – A call to action for COP26

We need to bridge the gap to a fossil-free future using current technology that improves energy efficiency, says Morten Wierod, President of ABB Motion.

There are basically four things we can do to cut our carbon emissions and fight climate change:

  1. Change the way we live and consume
  2. Improve energy efficiency
  3. Switch to clean energy
  4. Boost carbon capture – natural and technological

We will need all of the above. The extent to which we need to rely on the first category depends on how well we are able to implement measures in categories 2-4.

Last week, I participated in a TIME magazine panel discussion with Jennifer Anderson from Lazard Asset Management, Julien Gennetier from Alfa Laval, and Brian Motherway from the IEA, with Mark Barton as our moderator. We focused on energy efficiency as one of the key levers for combatting climate change. Watch the whole TIME magazine panel discussion, Leading with Technology, a part of The Sustainability Series.

Energy efficiency is not an if, it’s a must. It is a simple and impactful solution to a very complex existential crisis. It’s the low-hanging fruit we need to bridge our path to a carbon-free future where all energy is clean energy. It is a low-hanging fruit because a lot of the technologies and products needed to improve energy efficiency globally already exist today. We just need to take them into use.

What then is holding us back, preventing us from doing what is needed to preserve the planet for future generations? I think nothing, actually.

I see that the change is already happening. Our customers and partners are asking us at ABB how we can help them reduce energy usage and carbon emissions, and we are doing our best to deliver and to further push the boundaries of technology for greater energy efficiency.

As we heard from Jennifer Anderson in our panel discussion, investors are putting more and more emphasis on how the companies they are investing in are taking climate change and the environment into consideration.

And as the IEA World Energy Outlook 2021 report clearly states, clean energy technology is today a major area for investment, employment, and collaboration. A clean energy revolution is overdue.

What do we need in order to speed up the transition? I think we citizens and businesses need a bit of tough love from our political leaders – clear boundaries and direction to protect the planet and humans on it.
There needs to be a price tag for polluting the atmosphere. Polluting can’t be free of charge. Once that’s in place, I am an optimist. I believe market dynamics and the adaptability and innovative power of humans will take care of the rest.

World leaders have a perfect opportunity in four weeks as they are getting together for COP26 in Glasgow. The meeting has the potential to change the direction of our planet. It can show us a way out of the climate crisis. It can define how we are able to:

  1. minimize the carbon footprint as fast as possible.
  2. empower people and businesses to act.
  3. keep the wheels of the world turning even if the population is growing and living standards improving simultaneously.

We need the right regulations and incentives. We need governments, investors, businesses, individuals all to do their part. There is a big KPI on the line – the future of the planet and the humans on it.

We humans have grown to be the dominant species on earth. As a negative side-effect of our growth, we have put an unsustainable amount of stress on our planet. We have the power – It’s up to us to decide how to use it. I for one am ready for a change for the better.

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