AC pipeline interference
Against this backdrop, it is clear we are at a significant crossroads. As countries start to think about how to reboot their economies, will the relief for the environment be short-lived? Or will this signal the start of a new chapter? Will the lessons from COVID-19 enable us to pull together to deliver the energy transition or push us further apart?
There is a lot to consider; the worst public health crisis in 100 years, a climate emergency, and the severest economic turbulence in 80 years. Protecting people’s health and reinvigorating the economy are non-negotiable, however this should not be to the detriment of wider environmental, social and governance (ESG) imperatives.
The key question we will have to answer is: will we see spending plans, policies and packages that support a low carbon future, or not?
At Wood, we believe the transition towards a cleaner, healthier, decarbonised world can be accelerated by focussing on key areas of mutual benefit to people, planet and profit. Two of the fundamental enablers of this shift – accelerating the energy transition and sustainable infrastructure development – underpin our current strategy and have been at the heart of the deliberate steps we have taken to diversify our own business in recent years. We have broadened our business from oilfield services into a consulting and engineering company that holds strong positions in a range of end markets including renewables, infrastructure and environmental consulting. The events of the last few months reinforce our view that this strategy was the correct one – we’re less exposed to the volatility of commodity prices and are seeing growing demand for our services in areas including solar and onshore wind EPC projects, green and blue hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and other decarbonisation solutions.
Whilst we understand the transition will play out differently across individual regions, solidarity will be more important than ever. We need a ‘global citizen’ mindset with developed nations leading the charge, demonstrating leadership and de-risking technology. If governments and companies stimulate clean growth, we can ensure that the positive impact that COVID-19 has unexpectedly had on our environment endures – enabling future generations to look back on 2019 as the year of peak carbon.
As chief strategy officer at Wood, I lead scenario planning work which is helping us to navigate what is a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity & ambiguity) environment. To chart the best way forward, we’ve identified five steps we would like to see prioritised as part of a coordinated global response:
Many of the measures outlined above are longer-term plays that require time and investment. These shifts will not happen overnight and will require smaller, incremental goals that also deliver near-term benefits. Reengineering the world takes ambition, but it will also require sacrifice and a willingness for business and government to accept new commercial models that may involve lower and less volatile returns over a longer timeframe
As we plan for the future, there’s no better way to honour the lives that have been lost and the people who continue to put their lives at risk during these extraordinary times, than by making 2020 a turning point and a catalyst from which we begin to build a more sustainable future for the next generation.