The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an immediate reduction in energy demand and carbon emissions and has curbed investments across the sector with uncertain consequences for the energy transition, state participants of the Third Vienna Energy Strategy Dialogue titled 'Implications of the global energy transition' held virtually on 24 November 2020 from Vienna.
The OSCE, the World Energy Council Austria, Ernst & Young and the Federation of Austrian Industries hosted the event which focused on the socio-economic implications of the global energy transition, and geopolitical and security challenges in the new energy landscape.
The leading international forum for stakeholders of the energy sector brought together more than 100 high-level participants from politics, industry, science and civil society to share experiences and ideas on safe, affordable and environmentally responsible energy systems.
'The pandemic is giving governments and companies around the world the unique opportunity to rethink our current energy production and consumption patterns, and to design a more inclusive and sustainable energy future,' said Vuk Žugić, Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities.
Participants noted that energy consumers and producers across the OSCE region are adapting to major changes, ranging from depressed demand for hydrocarbons and new power consumption patterns from a public confined at home, to a hastened digitalization across sectors and affordability issues arising from the sudden economic decline.
'The tremendous challenges we have been facing can only be addressed collectively,' said Žugić. 'The OSCE thus remains committed to facilitating the dialogue and transnational co-operation needed to ensure that energy security is safeguarded, now and in the coming years.'
Dr. Michael Strugl, President of WEC Austria, elaborated that 'the restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to a demand disruption in the energy sector. Geopolitical tensions make energy security of countries relying on energy imports uncertain.'
During the first panel, keynote speakers Dr Angela Wilkinson (WEC), Dr. Ayed S. Al-Qahtani (OPEC) and Prof. Nebojsa Nakicenovic (IIASA) shared their insights on the socio-economic implications of the global energy transition. Amongst other, the speakers addressed topics such as demand disruption and the future of oil and gas in a pandemic-stricken world; access and affordability during the economic crisis; and low-carbon stimulus spending in the post-COVID energy sector.
Mr. Brent Wanner (IEA), Mr. Gottfried Tonweber (EY) and Dr. Jonathan Koomey delivered a keynote speech each during the second panel, which addressed the geopolitical and security challenges in the new energy landscape. Key topics addressed were energy security and network resilience in the age of decarbonization and digitalization; the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on global energy geopolitics; and the role of information technology in leading the energy transition.