On June 7, Richard Westerdale, an Executive Director at the Energy Futures Initiative and former advisor at the U.S. State Department, spoke in a webinar titled, “The Challenge of Energy.” It was hosted by Initiatives of Change, a Switzerland-based non-profit association of national legal bodies and international programs. Westerdale spoke on energy’s role in economic development, national security, and environmental responsibility.
“While international institutions and the private sector are well equipped to manage risk, the unprecedented uncertainty created by COVID, followed by Russian aggression, has created a difficult investment environment,” Westerdale said.
He also noted that the impact from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will not be resolved quickly, with implications that will be felt for the next decade. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic have “accelerated deglobalization,” interrupted energy supplies, and led to huge inflationary pressures.
In addressing the world’s energy needs, Westerdale said that there is “no magic bullet,” and a variety of solutions are necessary. A billion people in developing economies are “without access to consistent supplies of energy,” he said, and highlighted that these regions still need abundant, affordable energy to achieve a standard of living comparable to developed nations.
Therefore, a more holistic environmental responsibility outlook is on the rise. “The energy transition and focus on ESG [Environmental, Social and Governance] are here to stay,” he said. “The debate over our response to global warming is one of the most consequential public policy debates taking place today around the world. The stakes are enormous.”
– Karla Salazar
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