As part of our latest Talks Energy podcast series - The race to deep decarbonization, we spoke to Ditlev Engel, CEO of Energy Systems at DNV about deep decarbonization, what it means in the context of the Paris Agreement and what practical actions businesses, governments and industries need to take now and into the future.
The rapid, widespread electrification of our societies will be important in the fight against climate change – yet Ditlev Engel says that government and industry leaders must first look to safeguard future employment and upskill key workforces before they can achieve global emissions targets.
While some countries are “fairly well advanced” around the energy transition, Ditlev says, industry has a long way to go if it is to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, as set out in the United Nations’ Paris Climate Agreement signed in 2015.
To achieve this, he appeals to governments and the private sector to take a more collaborative approach to how supply chains deploy electrified energy and transport solutions into society and champions adoption of “deep decarbonization” of our industries, which involves a multifaceted approach.
“When we look at deep decarbonization, we are actually faced with two challenges,” Ditlev says. “One challenge is to scale up existing renewable technologies and energy efficiency programmes and all the things that will help us going forward.
“Then we have the hard-to abate sectors that we do not really have a solution for. It can, for instance, be what are we going to do with the airline industry and how are we going to handle that. Equally, how are we going to handle heavy industries where you can't solve their emissions with some of the solutions that exist already?
For Ditlev, this is why DNV’s Energy Transition Outlook is so important in helping businesses and industries understand what tools exist now, and what needs to evolve: “We use our annual Energy Transition Outlook to help to connect the dots between what technology can do to help with decarbonization but also what technologies are still needed to move forward practically.”
However, there remains a significant challenge when it comes to tackling mindset and that requires action from governments and regulators – especially when it comes to hard to abate areas of the economy. Ditlev believes that although achieving deep decarbonization will require careful planning, time is no longer on our side. Government intervention is urgently needed but he adds: “From our perspective at DNV, we are very technology optimistic but somewhat regulatory pessimistic.”
Just as the Covid-19 pandemic has seen people reduce their personal carbon footprint by up to seven per cent worldwide, Ditlev believes there are opportunities for governments to capitalize at a regional level too by incentivizing the private sector to invest in electrification.
While carbon taxes are already in place to persuade businesses to be more energy-efficient, Ditlev says that investment in the deployment of existing electric energy solutions will support the development of more advanced technologies that will help serve the decarbonization of heavy sectors such as transport, mining, and manufacturing.
“Going forward, I definitely think we will see a lot of countries and companies focus more on decarbonization,” he continues. “Deep decarbonization serves to preserve what energy we have left to emit and then make sure we do it in the smartest possible way with the right regulation and the right technology.”
For Ditlev and DNV, this is also about providing the right advice and support in responding to the energy transition: “At DNV, we’re looking at how can we work with our customers to help protect the environment, energy supply and unlock opportunities - particularly around carbon capture and storage.
“For me, deep decarbonization is not only an energy challenge, but it’s also an industrial challenge, a regulatory challenge and, above all, it's a mindset challenge and we need to realize this together. And to achieve this, we need the best people, companies, and countries to work together and to be clear about what they need to do. This has to happen.”