B2G Forum with the German Industry – Colombia

This Business-to-Government Dialogue fosters exchange between the German energy industry and high-ranking government officials this year from Colombia. During this year’s session, the German industry representatives have the opportunity to obtain valuable information on the current legal and economic framework of the country in question. The focus will be on different aspects on national energy strategies and recent developments of high-level government speakers.

Economics of a Green Structural Change

The Green Recovery is a broadly used term nowadays. People and states put their hopes in the concept in order to both achieve their renewable energy and climate targets and overcome the economic downturn due to Covid-19 pandemic. But also in the longer run a structural change towards a greener and more sustainable economic system is needed in order to ensure both adequate living conditions for every species on earth and economic prosperity.

How can we integrate green structures into our economic systems? How can Covid-recovery measures trigger a strong momentum for green growth? Which measures need to be undertaken? What is the role of the energy transition in that regard?

This closing session seeks to explore these questions and to draw conclusions, by looking at it from a scientific point of view. It is also a wonderful opportunity to give an outlook and to take a look back at the different topics of the conference and examine their validity for bringing a green structural change in our economic systems.

Liveable cities drive the energy transition

The world is becoming increasingly urbanized. Cities will need to accommodate two thirds of the world’s population in a liveable, low-carbon environment by 2050. As city populations grow, the demand for services but also pressure on resources will increase. This demand puts a strain on energy, water, waste, mobility and any other services that are essential to a city’s prosperity and sustainability.

Cities also offer clear opportunities to reduce emissions and develop climate-resilient future infrastructure. 

This session will shed a light on the shaping of smart and liveable cities, as a place where traditional networks and services are made more efficient with the use of digital and telecommunication technologies for the benefit of its inhabitants and businesses.

Flattening the climate curve – lessons from the pandemic

The global Covid-19 pandemic can in many ways be compared to climate change after pushing the “fast forward” button. It has had an enormous impact on virtually everybody’s health, well-being, and in many cases on their financial and labour market prospects as well However, the younger generation is particularly adversely affected by these developments. Covid-19 has made it clear how quickly and how comprehensively a global crisis can affect all of our lives, penetrating deeply into the private sphere. Are there lessons to be learned from this global crisis?

The Covid-19 crisis impressively shows how much our fight against it depends on solidarity on all levels of society. The global pandemic, like the climate catastrophe, does not stop at national borders.

Health and environmental crises hit the most vulnerable members of our societies particularly hard. What can we do to encourage more solidarity among all ages, all sectors, and all countries to tackle the arguably even more serious long-term crisis of climate change?

The United Nations Development Program’s “Peoples’ Climate Vote” conducted by the University of Oxford reflects the opinions of over half of the world’s population. Sixty-four percent of people believe climate change is a global emergency, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. When it comes to age, younger people (under 18) were more likely to say climate change is an emergency than older people. Nevertheless, other age groups were not far behind, illustrating how widely held this view has become.

Don’t think twice, set a carbon price!

To date, more than 40 countries in the world have introduced a carbon pricing mechanism, either in the form of a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme. 75% of these countries’ emissions are priced at less than €8 per tonne of CO2 eq. However, achieving carbon neutrality in the near future requires raising this price to at least €62/tonne of CO2 eq. ($75), as estimated by the International Monetary Fund. On the other hand, the prospect of an increase in the price of carbon involves the risk of carbon leakage, i.e. a relocation of emitting activities to regions with less strict legislation. In addition, the great majority of the emissions trading schemes cover only the energy and industry sector, thus raising the question of the applicability of such schemes to other sectors. 

This session aims at exchanging lessons learnt on CO2 pricing mechanisms across the world and discussing how to extend their scope. It addresses endeavours such as the planned European Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) and the introduction of emissions certificates in the German heating and transport sector. In short, it tackles the question of how to make trade sustainably climate neutral.

Carbon neutral buildings – waking the sleeping giant

The building sector, and in particular the building stock, is a significant factor when it comes to carbon emissions worldwide. According to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, the sector accounts for 38% of all energy-related CO2 emissions when adding building construction industry emissions.

Direct building CO2 emissions must be cut in half by 2030 in order to reach net zero carbon building stock by 2050. Inefficient buildings waste a lot of energy. Heating and cooling buildings consumes enormous amounts of energy and has low shares of renewable energy. When we discuss the energy transition today, we think primarily of electricity and mobility, but we rarely consider the building sector. A worldwide energy transition without 100% renewable heating and cooling will be impossible. The change has yet to come – how can we achieve this?

Many states have launched ‘green recovery’ plans that factor in the building sector on the path toward reducing emissions following the Covid-19 crisis. The EU CO2 reduction strategy (Renovation Wave) is the first continental decarbonisation programme for the building stock and aims to both improve the energy efficiency of buildings and speed up the integration of renewables. At what pace does this process need to be realised in order to help the sleeping giant quickly get on its feet? What are the implications for policies, industry and workforce? This session will provide an overview of the current global situation in the building sector.

The speakers will speak from the perspective of efficient buildings, on the one hand, and on the other hand from the perspective of the (climate neutral) energy sector.

“Game on” for transatlantic renewable aspirations

Renewable energy and climate ambitions can be boosted by a strong cooperation between Canada, the EU and the US as well as other key actors in the transatlantic region. Those ambitions will include scaling of RES targets, but also coordination on emissions trading, carbon pricing and taxation. There is a possibility to build on the “Transatlantic Climate Bridge”, which was established in 2008 with the aim of jointly tackling the challenges. With the new White House administration re-joining the Paris climate agreement and new energy partnerships being formed by the German government with key countries in the Americas, transatlantic leadership in the fight against climate change is gaining new momentum. This session will explore the depths of that cooperation to come.

Smart market designs for the global energy transition

Electricity markets were created in the last century for a world powered by fossil energies and they do not work very well for a power system based largely on intermittent RES. Today, electricity networks worldwide are experiencing dramatic increases in demand as well as in terms of RE capacity increments. They need to urgently adapt simultaneously to several new megatrends and challenges, including the increasing electrification of economies and the digitalisation of societies as well as quickly diversifying methods of carbon-neutral power generation and storage.

Part of reaching the goal of carbon neutrality lies in digitising power markets through many of the same methods that have allowed us to digitise and integrate modern financial markets. This deeply impacts the energy sector, connecting everybody to everything, and creating many new market opportunities. A main goal must therefore be to avoid misalignments and systemic frictions between the integration of renewables and existing market coordination modules, including the wholesale market, the retail market, and network regulation. Coherence across policy areas is essential and the point is that unless there is a favourable market design that is flexible, inclusive and dynamic, it will be difficult to develop digitised green power business models and rapidly deploy services. This represents a bit of a chicken and egg problem.

This session will provide an overview of the opportunities associated with the digitalisation of increasingly diversified and carbon-neutral electricity markets and the main challenges to realising these opportunities. Smart market designs help to seize those opportunities, f.i. with prosumer models. But there are also risks, such as new monopolies. How can these new paradigms be combined to accelerate the energy transition?

Greening the industry

The industrial sector is both a global economic powerhouse and a major contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for roughly one-third of global GHG emissions. In order to further accelerate the decarbonization process, one major task remains greening the industry, especially the “hard-to-abate” sectors. Key areas of transformation are energy intensive industries such as steel, cement and basic chemicals. Challenges include the transition from conventional to advanced carbon-negative manufacturing processes and other breakthrough technologies, the provision of large amounts of renewable electricity and carbon-neutral hydrogen as well as the establishment of the necessary infrastructure, e.g. for green hydrogen and sequestered carbon dioxide. Another area is the interplay with the energy grid, where the industry sector has huge potential for flexibility through Demand-Side-Management (DSM). This session will explore potential measures aimed at “greening” industrial processes by means of energy efficiency gains, regulatory mechanisms and, where possible, direct use of renewables through greater market competitiveness and availability.