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From the file

Inside the energy transition | The world needs to switch to renewable energy. But the transition is being held up by misinformation and negativity. Over six episodes, this new series will explore our bright energy future.

Episode 3 – A just transition: how to avoid leaving people behind

Episode 3 – A just transition: how to avoid leaving people behind

Can the energy transition help rather than hurt the most vulnerable households and communities? Some say the ‘spiralling costs’ of net zero will hit the poorest hardest. But if the right steps are taken, we can deliver cheaper energy bills, greener jobs and healthier communities – and make sure nobody is left behind.

Credits

With thanks to Simon Evans and Diana Fox Carney. This episode was produced by Phil Sansom.


Transcript

Giles Whittell: When it comes to the energy transition, and the broader climate crisis – not everyone is in the same boat.

Switching to renewables will be crucial to prevent catastrophic climate change, which would bring massive economic hardship to millions.

Lucy Yu: While the rich can afford to cope with rising prices and more common natural disasters, the rest will struggle. And those already in poverty today will be in mortal danger.

If we can quit fossil fuels, it will save an enormous amount of suffering. 

Giles Whittell: But a few people – in some cases more than a few – have been saying that when it comes to making this switch, the medicine will be worse than the disease…

Craig Mackinlay: This has got to be paid for. This has to be paid for in tax. And I didn’t become a Conservative to make my constituents colder and poorer.

Giles Whittell:  While politicians have always argued about climate change, we’re hearing an increasingly vocal opposition in UK government that says the energy transition will be unfair.

Lucy Yu: Net zero is the latest political football to be kicked around, with new factions blaming the cost-of-living crisis and rising energy bills on green energy policies. 

And we’re seeing these arguments spread to political arenas across the globe.  

Giles Whittell: But how much momentum are these arguments gaining, and what weight do they hold? Is there a danger that we create an energy future of stark unfairness? Or can we work together to make a better world?

*** 

Lucy Yu: Hello and welcome to Inside the Energy Transition – a podcast about the bright future of green energy. I’m Lucy Yu, CEO of Centre for Net Zero…

Giles Whittell: …and I’m Giles Whittell, the editorial lead on climate and sustainability at Tortoise. In this series we’re exploring the biggest questions, and debunking the most commonplace myths, about the energy transition: one of the defining goals of our time. 

***

Giles Whittell: So Lucy, in this episode, we’re talking about whether the energy transition is fundamentally unfair – will make society more unfair. Is that really a myth? 

Lucy Yu: I think it’s a valid concern, but it’s certainly not a foregone conclusion. And actually if we make good decisions now, we can actually use the energy transition as a real opportunity to address some of the issues of inequality in society. And that’s what our two guests are going to discuss today. 

Giles Whittell: This is something I’ve been educated about recently, actually, having been a CO2 monomaniac. And it’s taken, actually, if I’m honest, younger colleagues to remind me that this whole transition doesn’t happen unless you bring everyone along, and you don’t bring everyone along unless they feel it’s fair.

Lucy Yu: You’re probably not the only person who might confess to thinking that way Giles. What do you think is behind that? Why aren’t people thinking about these wider issues? 

Giles Whittell: I think it’s probably because we’re all a bit stuck in our silos. So for example, it’s quite hard to, when you’re thinking about heating bills and efficiency on an ultra local level, to think yourself into the mind of someone with completely different economic circumstances, for whom, for example, a heat pump is just out of the question.

Anyway, I think it’s time to bring in our first guest, who’s going to give us some insight into the direction we’re heading in in the UK. He’s Simon Evans, deputy editor of the absolutely essential Carbon Brief. Simon, welcome!

Simon Evans: Hi there, thanks for having me. 

Lucy Yu: Could we just explore this idea that the energy transition will hurt the poorest in society rather than helping them?

Simon Evans: I mean, there’s various different ways that this argument has reared its head. 

One of the ones which has been around for many years, and has kind of slipped off a little bit, is the idea that the poorest people in the world – those in Africa or in Asia – needed coal-fired power stations in order to give them access to modern energy services. 

Now over time, as the cost of renewables has plummeted, that argument has largely been turned on its head, because actually the cheapest way to give those people access to electricity now would be wind or solar.

In the UK context, it’s probably worth saying that this is really about policy choices. There are really bad ways that we could go about cutting emissions, which would be very unjust, would be very detrimental to the poorest in our society. 

But on the other hand, if the government goes about things in the right way, that doesn’t have to be the case. And indeed there are opportunities and benefits for everyone, including rich and poor. 

Giles Whittell: So just focusing a little more on the UK case, there are a lot of people, especially on the Conservative back benches at the moment, who are saying that the current energy crisis is a classic case of affluent people and their enthusiasm for an energy transition producing those policy choices that you mentioned, which will ultimately hurt the poorest most. 

Is there any truth in that? Has the UK got itself into a position where it’s overly reliant on renewables, and hasn’t invested enough in gas as a swing source of energy?

Simon Evans: We first of all need to address head on this idea that it’s somehow the fault of the energy transition that global gas prices are incredibly high at the moment. Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency, recently said that those sorts of arguments are “misleading to say the least”. 

Effectively what we’ve had is a huge economic rebound from Covid, a series of other very large, significant drivers of high gas prices globally, and it’s high gas prices which is responsible for upwards of 90 per cent of the increase in UK energy bills. 

Now as to the idea that climate policy will inevitably hurt the poor, I would say again, in a way we need to turn that on its head. 

Because actually, an analysis we published at Carbon Brief in January showed that… in 2013, David Cameron’s government at the time, it was infamously reported, he was reported to have told aides to: “get rid of all the green crap”.

And what they did was they rolled back a series of policies in terms of improving energy efficiency of people’s homes, and in terms of rolling out more onshore wind. 

And what our analysis showed was that the impact of those decisions by David Cameron’s government was to actually increase bills at the moment by about two and a half billion pounds.

In effect had we invested more in climate policies we would be better off now. And indeed renewables are so cheap now relative to gas that actually, if we’d built more onshore/offshore wind farms, solar farms, et cetera, we again would be saving significant sums.  

Giles Whittell: And so we are where we are, facing price increases that we are facing. What would be your broad advice on strategy? Is it to vastly increase renewables capacity for the UK, or is there a case for more gas as well? 

Simon Evans: In terms of how to address household bills for the poorest in society, one of the best ways of doing that is actually energy efficiency, which is a part of “rolling back the green crap”.

After that decision by David Cameron’s government, the rate of improvement of homes, the number of lofts being insulated, cavity walls being insulated and so on, absolutely fell off a cliff.

Now, of course you can give people a bung of £150 on their council tax bill, but those are short term measures. In the longer term, the best and smartest way to cut people’s bills is actually to make their homes more efficient.

They will need less energy, wherever that energy comes from. And that will automatically insulate them from gas prices going up and down, as they do tend to do. 

Giles Whittell: And if the proportion of the energy that they are using that is renewable goes up, does that mean long-term lower and more stable bills?

Simon Evans: So overall, renewables are by far the cheapest way to get new sources of electricity generation in the UK, and indeed in most parts of the world. 

It gets a bit more complicated once you look at the energy system overall, because you can’t obviously run it just on wind and solar sometimes. As people do like to point out, it gets dark and the wind doesn’t blow.

And there are a bunch of low-carbon solutions for dealing with that which do need to be developed, and they are more costly than renewables.

I think overall, the Climate Change Committee’s analysis suggests that the electricity bills will fall in the longer term, but there’s an initial peak of investment as you build that low carbon system out.

Lucy Yu: Perhaps just exploring a couple of the things you touched on Simon. Firstly, levies on energy bills: are they even the right way we should be thinking about this going forward? Is this the right mechanism? 

Simon Evans: To give David Cameron the benefit of the doubt, one of the reasons he targeted what he called “the green crap” – those green levies on energy bills – was because those levies are quite regressive.

The poorest people pay a larger proportion of their income on green levies than rich people.

In contrast, general taxation is much more progressive. And so a fairer way to fund climate policies would be through general taxation.

That is something that the government has been considering in light of the energy crisis that we’ve seen over recent months, but so far they’ve decided not to take that step.

Lucy Yu: And you talked about making homes more energy efficient, and in fact, actually, I know you’re having some insulation fitted to your own home as we speak! 

Are there examples of places where this has been done particularly well? I mean, it’s obviously a huge endeavour to try to retrofit millions of homes throughout a nation.

Simon Evans: We’ve seen in recent years in the UK the rate of home energy efficiency improvements absolutely plummet.

There was this Green Homes Grant that the government launched with great fanfare that was supposed to help people, but then that was scrapped because of poor administration, and it was difficult to access, and so on.

It’s worth remembering that actually the Conservative manifesto in 2019 promised to spend nine billion pounds over the course of this parliament on energy efficiency. So far, there’s very little sign of how they plan to do that.

In terms of other countries, quite recently we’ve seen in Ireland that they have launched very generous grants, I think, for people to improve their homes.

There are other countries showing that this can be done, but it is worth saying that insulating your homes and replacing gas boilers can be expensive, especially at the moment.

As you build a market for something like heat pumps, the cost is expected to come down. But initially there is definitely a need and a justification for government spending to support people, particularly those on low incomes. 

Lucy Yu: And what do we do about people who are renting and don’t own the home that they live in?

Simon Evans: Yeah, so at the moment, the government’s chosen solution to this issue is regulation, so to set minimum standards for rented properties.

The slight issue with that at the moment is that there’s basically no enforcement. Councils don’t have the resources, particularly since their budgets have been cut over the last decade. And so those standards aren’t being enforced.. 

Lucy Yu: And some people suggest that taxing carbon, putting a price on carbon, is a silver bullet to all of this. Is that reasonable, would you say, or would that also come with its own problems? 

Simon Evans: This is quite appealing, particularly in a model. In practice, carbon pricing runs into all sorts of problems, be it political, social, and so on.

Politically it’s often difficult to impose a carbon price that would be commensurate with the challenge of decarbonising. And more fundamentally, carbon prices aren’t necessarily giving people the signal that they would need to switch from a gas boiler, for example, to a heat pump.

The fact that gas heating doesn’t face a carbon price at all obviously is not helpful. But imposing a significant carbon price on home heating would, as we’ve discussed, probably be quite painful for the poorest households. There are much better ways of going about this. 

Lucy Yu: And just finally, an energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables will obviously mean a diminished fossil fuel-based sector. What are the potential risks around jobs and employment?

Simon Evans: Yeah, so people often talk about the need for a just transition. Effectively that is all about addressing those people that currently work in high-carbon sectors, whether that’s the coal sector – it’s pretty tiny in the UK – or whether in the much larger North Sea oil and gas sector. 

Those people could potentially lose out. And again, that comes back to policy choices. The flip side of that is that there are also lots of opportunities that come with the low-carbon transition.

You look at people like Ben Houchen, who’s the Conservative mayor of the Tees Valley, who’s all about touting the benefits of industrial regeneration coming from low-carbon, whether that’s wind turbine factories, or carbon capture and storage projects, or giga-factories for batteries.

There are definite risks there, but again, it’s something that can and should be addressed through sensible government policy. And we mustn’t forget that there are potential benefits too.

***

Giles Whittell: So Simon has talked about the falling cost of renewables, and he’s given us a bit of the UK perspective. Let’s take a step back now and get a broader view.

How are countries around the world going to take advantage of the social benefits that green energy can provide? And how do they make sure the public stays on board with the significant changes they need to make as they transition? 

Here to explain is the leading climate expert and economist Diana Fox Carney. Diana, great to have you here.

Diana Fox Carney: Thank you very much for having me. 

Giles Whittell: Diana, we were just talking to Simon Evans who was, broadly speaking, optimistic that a so-called ‘fair’ energy transition is possible, despite the obstacles. Do you share that optimism or not?

Diana Fox Carney: Listen, in all things climate I think we have to be optimistic. I think it’s not an option to have an unfair energy transition. I think we’ll lose the support that is required to move forward with this transformation of the economy. So yes, but it is also an enormous challenge.

In some degree it’s a challenge of timeframes, because the long-run sunlit uplands are great, we have abundant energy, we have thriving economies; the short-term adjustments are extremely challenging and very costly. And I’m sure that’s what your previous guest talked about.

Giles Whittell: What do you see as the most pressing, specific financial problems that will affect the poorest in society most as we press ahead with energy transition? Are we talking about transport? Are we talking about basics like domestic heating?

Diana Fox Carney: So to me there’s two sides of this issue. One is the domestic heating, home comfort side, and then there’s also of course the jobs side. 

It’s not always by any means the poorest who will lose their jobs potentially in an energy transition. Fossil fuel workers, et cetera, are actually quite well–paid, and whether or not there are sufficiently good jobs to replace those is a concern. 

But I think when one thinks about the job situation, you have to remember that for every good old economy job, there’s lots of service jobs hanging off that, for example. So there are also potential job realignments and geographic realignments that can definitely hit poorer groups. 

And the fundamental point is that the less economically robust you are, the less able you are to deal with change, basically. You don’t have that cushion if you do lose your job and have a period of unemployment, et cetera. Change in general tends to hit the poorest hardest.

So, yeah, but two sides, for me, of this problem, and we do have to address both of them. And both of them are potentially quite costly in terms of government support that’s required in the short term.

Giles Whittell: And you’ll be aware that the UK response to that is going to be a couple of cash handouts over the course of this year. From where you’re sitting in Canada, and sort of thinking globally, if you can, what is the best way to address these short term cost issues that are going to hit the poorest hardest?

Diana Fox Carney: As you know, at the moment, the increased cost of energy that people are facing is not primarily a green issue, but it does somewhat mimic what might take place if we don’t do the transition effectively, so I think it’s a really interesting case.

And I see why governments have to support people. I mean, already… I don’t know exactly what the figures are in the UK, but in Canada, 20 per cent of people are considered to be in energy poverty already. And that was before with the price rises, which are less steep here, but nonetheless do exist.

When I think about this… yes, you have to support people through it, but the most important thing is to invest in those renewables, to invest in energy supply, so that you can drive down those prices in the long term.

And what we’re seeing now is probably a mismanaged energy market: insufficient investment in renewable energy. We have about a third of what we’re supposed to – what the economists, what the International Energy Agency and others – suggest we should be investing in renewables globally.

So what we’re doing is we’re squeezing supply. Potentially we’re squeezing fossil fuels, and there’s geopolitical issues around that, of course, with Russia and what’s happening there and tight supply in general. 

But I guess I take a longer term, or a sort of medium term view: what we should be doing is we should be recognising the need to invest very heavily, and ensure that there will be abundant, relatively cheap supply going forward, so that we’re trying to avoid having a green crunch on top of the existing fuel price crunch that we see now. 

Lucy Yu: Diana, could I just pick up on that point about investments? To me, an investment is something that we do where there is a payback or a return in the future. And I think reflecting on what you’ve been saying, are we actually moving fast enough here? Are we making enough progress quickly enough? 

Diana Fox Carney: No. It’s unquestionable that we are not moving fast enough to address climate change. We haven’t been, we’re still not.

There are challenges around investing in renewables and in energy supply. Those include entering the power system: there are challenges around permitting, and grid connections for solar units, et cetera. There are challenges around regulation, and in the UK obviously the onshore wind has been a point of contention. 

So there’s challenges that relate to the government. There’s also challenges because these things are very capital intensive. It’s a different investment profile, as you know, so you have to put more money in in the short term and less money in over the longer term, but it is a big swath of money that needs to go in up front.

And I think that’s a different type of investment, and a different type of investor potentially, than the traditional fossil fuel model. 

Lucy Yu: And when it comes to government intervention, how should we be thinking about that?

Is this a problem or a challenge largely that at the national administration level. Is this something that should be more at the local level? Is it some sort of combination of the two? What should that look like in an ideal world?

Diana Fox Carney That’s a question that depends on the jurisdictions in your country in question, I think.

In the UK, a lot of the big scale stuff – the permitting, the regulation – is a national responsibility, and so it has to be addressed at that level. There are also more local-level regulations, and they might be planning regulations. 

And some things around district heating, things like that, there are definitely efforts that can be made. And I know in London, the London authorities are encouraging that locally. So it just depends on which country you’re in and who has responsibility, really.

Lucy Yu: And again, coming back to interventions, how do we ensure that this route to net zero actually creates good employment, creates jobs? 

Diana Fox Carney: The intersection between the jobs piece and the homes and heating piece is that it’s quite jobs heavy.

The massive challenge that every country in the world has, pretty much, is to retrofit homes so they are more energy efficient. And this is the low hanging fruit, but we haven’t done it.

In the home space, it is particularly challenging – and in the UK with a difficult housing stock, it is very challenging – to make that airtight, or equivalent, so that you can be more efficient in your heating.

But it is also very jobs-intensive. And they’re skilled jobs, but they’re not completely different from some of the jobs that might be lost. 

One of the issues when people talk about the jobs transition is they talk about: “I was a coal miner and now I’m going to be a tech worker.” Well, there’s a very, very wide jump and skills transfer to get from one to the other, and a different feel of those two jobs.

Whereas if you used to be working in a certain manual labour position, and now you’re installing solar panels or you’re doing roof insulation, there’s not quite such a big jump.

So there is a huge potential in that space. And I don’t know if you’re aware, but Germany has historically been the poster child for actually doing a good job and putting huge amounts of money into home retrofits. 

Interestingly – or rather challengingly for this conversation – they cut off some of their funding for that at the beginning of this year. And I’m not fully up on the details, but I think the sense that this was an extremely costly approach to achieving carbon reductions played into that.

But it’s estimated that the programme that was administered by KfW – which is a sort of hybrid state bank in Germany – that created nearly a million jobs in this home renovation space.

So it is potentially a win-win, but there are also skills issues in this space, and clearly there are efforts to address the ‘retrofit skills challenge’. Certainly I think the UK is ahead on that. 

Giles Whittell: So that’s a really interesting example of a case in which a national government briefly seized on an aspect of the transition and its job creation potential. 

But is there anywhere at all that you look at enviously and think, “now they’ve really got it right,” in terms of the regulatory framework required to make a just transition a reality, to help the neediest over the hump?

Diana Fox Carney: Sadly… not. 

Giles Whittell: Can we cherry pick from a bunch of different places?

Diana Fox Carney: Listen… the poster child for transitioning people out of jobs is Germany and the move out of coal, which is a very long-term programme with very watertight guarantees of employment and stipend and pension.

That was actually instigated because of the cost of coal production in Germany initially, but obviously had a green benefit for it. So Germany is probably… if there were a country out there, it would be Germany.

That said, when I speak to colleagues from Germany, they also point to some of the enormous challenges in this space.

Putting money on the table is critically important. But when we think about the numbers of households involved, these sums of money are inevitably huge. And that is the challenge.

I mean, Germany was dedicating, I understand, around eight billion euro a year in this space. That wasn’t all government money; KfW sourced private money too. But when you think of the amount of units of housing to be retrofitted – there’s about 25 million in the UK, for example – we’ve made barely a dent on that.

And the problem is that yes, it is the poorest whom we need to help most, but it’s actually all of us. It’s all our houses. There’s people well above that fuel poverty line who cannot afford to put the £20-30,000 that is required to make your house into an effective envelope.

So the need for money in this space is almost infinite, which is what makes it difficult. And when you calculate the pound per kilo of carbon, et cetera, it does turn out to be very expensive.

That said, if we’re going to get to net zero, there is really no solution that doesn’t have us retrofitting our entire housing stock over time.

My answer is that I think everyone’s trying to do similar things. And in France, they have something that’s similar to the warm homes stipend which they’ve upped this year, but they also have protective legislation so that you can’t be disconnected from fuel supplies in the winter, for example.

So people are all stepping in with similar types of measures. The really good stuff that we’re seeing now is a much greater move towards future-proofing. 

So I think the Netherlands was perhaps the leader on not allowing hookups to the gas grid for new construction, but that’s spreading more widely. The UK is not going to allow gas boilers post-2025. And in the US this is also spreading: New York has now got a target for not allowing any more fossil fuel hookups.

So I think alleviating the pain of this fuel price increase is not equivalent to getting us to net zero. This is a short–term pricing that we’re dealing with.

And we have to hold our nerve and continue to invest, so we can ensure that in the medium- to long-term we have reasonably priced energy available to consumers, and particularly to the poorer groups who feel it most because it’s the highest proportion of their spending. 

Lucy Yu: Diana, we began by talking about the energy transition. We’ve zoomed into issues of inequalities and protecting the vulnerable, we’ve zoomed into the jobs transition, and we’ve zoomed out to matters of the climate crisis in general and wider issues of net zero. Is it really possible to address all of these challenges at once?

Diana Fox Carney: Again, I have to say yes, because it has to be possible and we have to draw on all our ingenuity. 

I genuinely think that if we are not able to solve some of these issues and ensure that people stay on side with us, we are going to be in a really difficult position, and politicians are going to always be pulled away from what they need to do.

And you see it is the way things move at the moment, so we have to keep people feeling like we’re moving in the right direction. But this massive transformation of our economy that we’re trying to plan and execute – you’re asking that to also take on some really thorny social issues that have been there forever.

We’ve had poverty forever. We have inequality increasing through technology and other factors in the economy in general. You’re now asking this energy transition to solve for all these problems at once, in a sense; to deal with some of these issues of poverty, joblessness, precarity, in addition to transforming the economy.

So this is massively heavy lifting, but I think we all have to put our heads together and do our utmost, because if we don’t, then we are just not going to get to where we need to be on the climate.

And the underlying factor here is that climate change disproportionately affects the poorest, again: bad housing, you can’t afford to get out, you don’t have the insurance, you can’t run your air conditioning because you don’t have any and it’s super hot, et cetera, et cetera.

In the long run, these people are going to suffer more for sure. So we really have to address these issues as best we can.

Lucy Yu: You’ve been researching and campaigning on these issues for over 30 years now. What has changed in that time? And what are reasons to be optimistic today?

Diana Fox Carney: Right now I think we’re in a kind of… I think of it as a slightly sort of quantum state, wherein you have to hold two states in your hands at the same time: one of which is that we’re in the best position we’ve ever been in, and the other is that we’re in the worst position we’ve ever been in.

Clearly in terms of atmospheric carbon dioxide, et cetera, we’re in the worst position we’ve been in. We are not meeting our targets and there is a very long and difficult journey ahead.

However… and you rightly state that I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, which is true, and slightly depressing, but… I mean, I think back to 2015.

I think back to the time that the government in the UK – I was working in a think tank in the UK – the government ditched the green home standards and basically backed away from a number of things which were ready to go.

And there wasn’t that much of an outcry at the time because people were not tuned into the need, for example, for green building and environmental standards. There was not at that time a sense of, what I would describe as a kind of inevitability.

This transition is gonna take place. I have no doubt about that. The real question is one of time. If we had 30 to 40 years, I would be deeply optimistic. The fact of the matter is we have a decade, pretty much.

On current trajectory, as you well know, our carbon budget – which is the amount of carbon we’re able to emit before we exceed that 1.5 degrees – is going to run out in about seven years. That is an extremely tight timeframe.

However, because we’ve seen such massive reductions in technology costs… and obviously the poster child there is solar panels, and battery costs, and all the things we need to move forward, because there is a vision of a forward pathway, even in the so-called ‘hard to abate’ sectors.

So we’ve got a lot of innovation in steel, and in cement, and all those other things which we thought we perhaps would never have solutions in.

There have been massive technological advances. There’ve been massive cost decreases. And there is now a sense, I believe, that this is going to happen.

So I’m optimistic, because ten years ago, I couldn’t get through the door of UK corporations to talk about climate change. No one was interested. It was like: “no, that’s not a problem. We’ll deal with it when it comes up.”

And now is that time, and they are dealing with it, and everyone… you see the thirst for ESG professionals in all these companies There’s a load of noise and sound and fury.

I don’t think we’re on the real pathway to achievement that we need to be. However, it’s a step change from where we were ten years ago and certainly thirty years ago.

***

Lucy Yu: Two very thought-provoking speakers. So what do you think, Giles? Are you persuaded that we can simultaneously go through this energy transition and also address wider issues of inequality? 

Giles Whittell: Yes. I mean, it’s one of those things where the answer has to be yes, because it has to get done. And I guess that was the thrust of much of what Diana was saying.

But I do think that the fundamental numbers are encouraging. Yes, the disruption is going to upend whole sectors of the economy. But if you pursue this thing with enough conviction, all the stats seem to say, even if you allow for boosterism and exaggeration, the new energy infrastructure that we have to build will be a net job creator.

And the challenge is to persuade people in particularly vulnerable areas that this isn’t just talk.

Lucy Yu: In a previous episode we spoke to Adam Dorr, and he talked about the pace at which this transition might happen. Do you think that that is compatible with addressing issues of inequality? Can we do this quickly, but also equitably?

Giles Whittell: I find it really compelling. It reminded me of the first time iPhones became available, right? And early adopters – your tech-savvy friends – got them first, and realised the advantages of them quickly. I wasn’t one of them. I was a really grumpy iPhone adopter.

And if that is any indication of how the energy transition might unfold, there will be people who get left behind, won’t there. I think we have to accept that.

And it’s going to be a job of smart, enlightened, forward-thinking, empathetic policymakers to find ways to… well, as I was saying, turn words into action. You think of West Virginia and the coal industry there, you think of Aberdeen and the oil industry there.

We’ve just got to do it as well as we can. 

Lucy Yu: And with more Simons and Dianas on the case.

Giles Whittell: Yes! Bring it on, you reckon?

Lucy Yu: Yeah! 

***

Giles Whittell: You’ve been listening to Inside the Energy Transition, a podcast from Tortoise Media and Centre for Net Zero. A big thanks to our guests this week: Simon Evans and Diana Fox Carney. 

Lucy Yu: Find out more about Centre for Net Zero and what we do at centrefornetzero.org. 

Giles Whittell: And if you’re new to Tortoise, we’ve got a weekly newsletter called the Net Zero Sensemaker, which tells you everything you need to know about getting to net zero. To sign up for that and more journalism from our newsroom just go to tortoisemedia.com/invite and use my code Giles50 for 50 per cent off membership.

Lucy Yu: Tune in next time for a global look at the energy transition. Some say it’s only really happening in the West, but that’s not true. We’ll deep dive into China and sub-Saharan Africa to prove it.

Giles Whittell: This episode was produced by the audacious Phil Sansom, with support from Izzy Woolgar. The executive producer is Ceri Thomas.

Lucy Yu: If you enjoyed it, please do leave us a review, or recommend us to a friend. Thanks for listening and see you next time!

Next in this file

Episode 4 – A global transition: from China to Sub-Saharan Africa

Episode 4 – A global transition: from China to Sub-Saharan Africa

Is the energy transition only truly happening in the West? Politicians like to point fingers at those who “aren’t doing their bit”. But every country – from China to Kenya – is going through their own transformation…

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