Energy Access

Have you realised that without energy we would be living in Wilma Flintstones’ world? From the mattress where you sleep, the pillow you rest your head, the sofa possibly overused in the past 14 months to the shoes you ware or the vaccination booking, all goods and services need energy to be used.

Energy is a basic good and its distribution, a basic need. Although great progress has been made since energy access data started to be collected in 1990 by the World Bank, as shown in the graphic below, not all have access to it yet. The last decade of the XX century experienced a rampant improvement in the energy access. Overall, energy access improved over 35 p.p. between 1990 and 2000. It occurred mainly in Latin America, Caribe, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. World leaders ensured the World started the XXI century with more comfort than it began. But unfortunately, that comfort has been accompanied by extra GHG emissions as the chosen energy systems were not the most environmentally friendly. Progress came at a cost.

As we progress in the XXI century a new system is emerging. The dialog amongst civil society, businesses and governments is becoming more inclusive in solving global problems such as mitigating climate change negative impact. The transformation many sectors need to pursue is being pulled by the strength of those three actors and the urgency to act deeply to decarbonize and limit global warming to 1.5ºC or 2ºC. Although The Economist informed this week that an yearly volume of 5.5GtCO2 emissions haven’t been taken into consideration by countries, just same volume as the second most pollutant country, due to the varied reporting standards adopted by different countries. With this new data, our Carbon Budget for our Planet’s average temperature not to be risen above the limits agreed with the Paris Agreement, is most certainly smaller than has been announced.

In the previous century, a country’s typical energy mix was comprised of natural gas, oil, coal, hydro, nuclear and a insignificant presence of renewables. As technologies developed, global warming became more evident, pollution levels rose along with respiratory diseases, action to tackle this societal problem emerged stronger. Consequently, renewable investments have been increasing as shown in my post Energy Transition investments.

It’s great to see this increasing portion of renewable energy being generated and consumed. Yet, this increasing rate causes extra pressure in the national energy system operators. The uncertain nature of the renewable energy generation, that not always generates what is expected due to weather changes and the need to meet the electricity demand makes the grid balance to ensure the system’s reliability, more challenging. For each one of us to switch on the power anywhere and anytime, without disruption, system operators need to ensure electricity is generated, transmitted and distributed in the correct amount and at the right tension.

Integrating the new distributed systems in the traditional model is a challenge that will be overcome, in many parts of the world, with a collaborative action from civil society, businesses and governments.  

P.S. The previous graphic wasn’t showing the % of population with energy access. The current one is the correct. Yet, this does not change the fact that population has had a more comfortable life with an increase of energy access. The number of countries with energy access has been growing for the past 3 decades, and although the last quinquennium of XX century more population were deprived of energy access, that trend started to revert as the new century and millennium began.

Two plants, two approaches to Corporate Sustainability

Fireside chat with Dr Ioannis Ioannou on Corporate Sustainability Reporting and Innovation

“We need to understand that we are all in this planet together.” as professor Dr Ioannis Ioannou remind us. Transforming organisations into Sustainable ones is a need as We’re All in this together. Companies, as he mentions, need to choose their approach to sustainability by either taking common or unique actions. “The common actions, are actions companies absolutely need to do to be in middle…if you don’t follow the best-practices, chances are you’re gone be in a competitive disadvantage… If you want to be a leader you also need to think what you’re doing uniquely well, what is differentiating you well”. As we celebrate Earth’s Day today, and with Biden’s Climate Summit starting, Dr Ioannis Ioannou also leaves a message for the World Politicians and Business Leaders meeting these 2 days. To have an overview on his innovative approach, listen to this podcast.

Earth Day – #RestoreOurEarth

Both Cambridge and Oxford dictionaries define restore as a way to return something to a previous good condition or position; or “to bring back into use something that has been absent for a period of time”.

But we can only restore something if we acknowledge it has been deteriorated. As mentioned in my first post, Beginning, recent global warming has been caused by Anthropocene’s activity. Although these past 14 months economic activity has dropped deeply, emissions have only dropped slightly as a large amount of activity became digital, accelerating the digital transformation that many organisations were reluctant to join more significantly. As brick-and-mortar shops closed to contain contagium, the transport induced emissions increased due to a higher adoption of Covid-19 safer home deliveries. In some places electric delivery vehicles surged. A good time to show remote workers some of their products were sustainably delivered, but it hasn’t been enough.

As the Earth day approaches and lockdowns started to ease, which action are you taking from Earth’s day onwards to also contribute to #RestoreourEarth? Well, in case you haven’t thought of one, and haven’t become aware of your carbon footprint, I recommend you to use the carbon FOOTPRINT CALCULATOR ( from Henkel, analyse your results. At the end you’ll find your footprint in comparison to the European Average, the Global average and the target carbon footprint, giving you an opportunity to think how much you need to change the unsustainable actions by sustainable ones and influence the people around you. This carbon footprint calculator contributes to a research #Henkel is doing with the aim of providing more sustainable goods in the near future. According to Henkel, the collected information remains anonymous.

Once your awareness has increased, you should consider some new sustainable habits to improve your Carbon footprint. (You may want to watch this 2015’s Nasa video showing a year of Carbon dioxide and monoxide emissions across the globe: NASA | A Year in the Life of Earth’s CO2 – YouTube).

Remember that to be sustainable means that resources are used efficiently, with reduced extraction and longer usage, allowing future generations to also access and use it. You can do so by:

  • Reusing – stop the single use of all items which don’t convey a health risk.
  • Repairing so it can be used for longer (a good example can be an electric equipment that only needs its engine to be repaired, allowing a longer usage and less plastic or steel to be produced and consequently less GHG emissions released);
  • enable its Reincorporation in other manufacturing processes;
  • Recycling and contributing to a longer lifecycle.

Reduce the resources to be consumed and contribute to restore our planet! Remember that not all food locally produced suggests an adoption of a sustainable production method. Also, bear in mind, that less usage means less extraction, which consequently means less disturbance to ecosystems and higher biodiversity. The latter is at risk of huge loss with subsequent great impact in our wellbeing, if we don’t limit global warming to 1.5º C.

Closing the Loop – Screening the Documentary

About this Event

Closing the Loop, an award winner Circular Economy documentary by Wayne Visser. SustainAbility in Habit founder, Filipa Ferreira will screen Freely this Sunday via Zoom at 15h00 GMT/16h00 CET. It will be followed by a short chat with participants to share thoughts and quick reflections. Documentary lasts 1h30 and chat 30 minutes of discussion.

Watch the Trailer.

Event details will be received once registered. Registration is FREE!

Circular Economy and the Circular Economy Commitment

Circular economy is gaining strength as the linear business models have been proving unsustainable. Increasingly more companies are adopting the Circular business models, with some also signing public Circular Economy commitments. Last week some have done so within the Sustainable Transformation groups. To learn more about Circular Economy and the Circular Economy Commitment you can listen to this podcast where I have interviewed Professor Dr Wayne Visser, a pioneer on Sustainability and Circular Economy research.