🌱 Is the energy transition happening rapidly enough?
According to recent research from the World Benchmarking Alliance and the Carbon Disclosure Project evaluating “corporate action against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals”, the “energy transition is currently progressing too slowly”. Their “assessment of 68 of the world’s largest and most influential electric utilities companies” showed that these companies’ “total share of wind and solar generation almost doubled to 7% of the energy mix between 2017 and 2022”. Notably however, the companies “are still falling substantially short of the speed and scale needed to limit global warming to 1.5C and keep our planet habitable”. The research found that only 15% of the companies “have net-zero targets aligned with the International Energy Agency's net-zero emissions growth requirements”. Moreover, “[o]nly 43% of companies using coal generation currently have plans to phase it out”.
🌱 Are human rights being upheld by the renewable energy sector?
According to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, there is “a need for significant improvement in human rights commitment and practice across the [renewable energy] sector as a whole”. Their 2023 Renewable Energy & Human Rights Benchmark “assessed and scored the human rights policies and practices of 28 leading renewable energy supply chain firms across wind and solar project developers, oil and gas companies entering into renewables, and wind turbine and solar panel manufacturers”. The benchmark highlighted that the sector as a whole is currently “not ready to deliver a fair energy transition”. It “found that while the renewable energy sector has made progress in adopting broad human rights policies, it is falling woefully short in addressing the most salient human rights risks”. It also demonstrated that there are “notable gaps between policy and practice, and dangerous shortcomings on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, land rights, and forced labour”.
🌱 Why is a just transition important?
While a rapid and largescale transition over to renewable energy is urgently needed, steps must be taken to make sure communities and workers are not left behind. Failing to do so can lead to resistance, community opposition, an “erosion of public support”, and even conflict. All of these can significantly impede both the progress and the pace of individual energy projects and the energy transition as a whole. This means that the private sector, investors, and governments must ensure that corporate human rights due diligence is carried out well, that fair negotiations are held with impacted communities, and that measures are put into place to “ensure the energy transition delivers shared prosperity”.