The Secretary General of the International Energy Forum, Joseph McMonigle participated virtually in the International Energy Executive Forum 2021 hosted on 10 December 2020 in Beijing, China. In his keynote address, the Secretary General spoke on energy market challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the largest energy market in the world, Mr McMonigle emphasised that China will play a key role in shaping energy demand in the post-COVID 19 recovery.
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on global energy security, market stability, and sustainable economic growth have resulted in:
- Immediate reductions in demand, supply, and investment,
- Elevated market volatility and uncertainties around energy sector resilience
- Widening social divides notably in respect of energy poverty and energy access
- New energy and climate policy initiatives, industry, and business strategies
Major economies have announced various net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and circular carbon economy strategies to ensure a swift return to sustainable economic growth. This includes China's ambitious energy, climate, and clean air policy goals to reach net-zero emissions by 2060 which include:
- Extension of electric car subsidies and tax breaks until 2022 and expanding the country’s charging network by 50 percent in 2020 to stimulate electric vehicle deployment in the short-term
- Pledges to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 65 percent per unit of GDP from 2005 levels
- Increase the share of renewables to 25 percent in the energy mix
- Grow forests cover by six billion cubic meters from 2005 levels by 2030 as mentioned by President Xi Jinping at the Climate Ambition Summit that the United Nations (UN), United Kingdom, and France co-convened with Chile and Italy as partners on 12 December 2020 – five after the signature of the 2015 landmark UN Paris Agreement, and postponement of the 26th UN Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC in Glasgow that the UK will now host in partnership with Italy in 2021
Mr McMonigle also stressed that China is well-positioned to help facilitate a sustainable economic recovery together with major Asian growth economies and the global gas industry. As emission reductions in developed economies demonstrate, gas technologies accelerate fuel-switching and deeper penetration of renewables. This will enable affordable and resilient energy systems integration coupled with hydrogen technologies that are essential for sustainable growth.
He also highlighted the need to improve energy market data transparency to better inform decisions by governments, investors, and traders in the new risk environment COVID-19 creates. The IEF will continue to push for more complete and faster energy market data submissions through the Joint Organisations Data Initiative that the IEF co-ordinates with Partner Organisations. Here, stronger engagement with China and other non-OECD on economies energy data transparency will be vital.