OGEL Call for Papers: Special Issue on "COVID-19 and the Energy Transition"
18 November 2020
Oil, Gas and Energy Law Intelligence (OGEL, ISSN 1875-418X, www.ogel.org) invites submissions for a special issue covering the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the Energy Transition. The guest editors for this special issue are Dr. Theophilus Acheampong, Energy Economist & Political Risk Analyst, and Professor Tina Soliman Hunter, Professor of Energy and Resources Law at the Macquarie Law School, Macquarie University.
COVID-19 has dramatically impacted livelihoods and economies. The pandemic has profoundly impacted and is disrupting energy markets, including in the upstream oil and gas, power, and downstream industries. For example, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the benchmark for US oil, US oil, turned negative for the first time in history in April 2020 due to a sharp slump in demand. The shocks from the pandemic have also lead to reductions in fossil fuel consumption and emissions in 2020. The IEA in its 2020 World Energy Outlook assesses that 2020 global energy demand is set to drop by 5%, energy-related CO2 emissions by 7%, and energy investment by 18%. In a related development, oil cartel OPEC, which controls about 42% of global crude oil supply and 80% of crude oil reserves, in its 2020 World Oil Outlook indicated that oil demand would plateau in the late 2030s. This potentially reflects a lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy and consumer habits. That is, the pandemic may very well prove to catalyse the energy transition, which in some respect, was already well underway before COVID-19.
On the other hand, various governments have announced a range of stimulus (fiscal and monetary) packages to mitigate the significant uncertainties that the pandemic poses. Some of these economic relief packages include trillions of dollars of new investments into low and zero-carbon technologies and infrastructure under a "green and sustainable growth agenda". Such investments have the potential to catalyse or accelerate the energy transition forward by several years, changing the very fabric of the current fossil-based energy landscape. Further driving the transition pressure is increased investor and regulatory pressure. For example, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on 12 October 2020, asked major development financial institutions (DFIs) to stop backing fossil fuel projects. This was after a report showed that the World Bank had invested US$12 billion into various projects associated with fossil fuels since the 2015 Paris Agreement. Even Pope Francis, who oversees 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide, has lent his voice to calls for a post-pandemic sustainable development model based on transitioning away from fossil fuels.
All the above raises interesting questions: firstly, what will be the COVID-induced longer-lasting implications for the energy transition away from fossil fuels? Secondly, will the temporary pandemic-induced reductions in fossil fuel consumption and emissions be enough to put the world on a path to meet 2-degree centigrade global warming target? Some estimates indicate the oil's share of the global energy mix will drop from the current 90% to about 50% if the 2-degree centigrade global warming target is to be attained by 2050. While the desire, determination and diligence to switch is not conjectural, the key challenges of how to transit, and the rate of transition without disrupting global economies and the unintended consequences remains debatable.
One implication of this is that countries with newfound hydrocarbon resources are likely to have about a 20-30-year window to maximise the outcomes from them. Likewise, issues of access to infrastructure and pricing (monetisation challenges) for natural gas will need to be addressed in countries with newfound resources, if natural gas is to live up to its hype as a transition or bridge fuel. Furthermore, i t remains likely that the world may not be able to meet the minimum 2-degree centigrade pathway by 2050 if the current business-as-usual or stated policies scenario, is continued without radical or aggressive change in approach. The pace of the transition presents challenges as well as opportunities for several countries and economies. The speed at which the global economies "walk" the ongoing energy transition "talk" is very critical and has implications for all economies more so given the potential asymmetric effects. That is, the pace of the energy transition will not be uniform across the world.
The Special Issue aims to examine and discuss the legal, regulatory and socioeconomic implications of COVID-19 vis-à-vis the energy transition. In particular, this OGEL special will consider the following suggested (non-exhaustive) topics and themes:
- Global energy transition implications and possible transition pathways for developed and emerging economies - for example, domestic (diversification and job creation) and external drivers (low demand for oil, stalling of fossil-based investments, among others).
- How the energy transition will play out at regional and national levels.
- Role of petroleum in future global energy supply mix post-COVID.
- Strategic options for countries concerning resource exploration and extraction policies.
- International and national oil company strategies post-COVID.
- Institutional investors and shareholder activism in driving corporate action on energy transition post-COVID.
- Renewable energy and decentralised off-grid energy initiatives.
- Global gas markets (domestic consumption and LNG exports) post-COVID.
- The power sector post-COVID.
- Policy responses and initiatives by governments to attract investment inflows into the energy sector post-COVID.
- Role of innovation and emerging disruptor technologies like the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and blockchain in catalysing the energy transition.
- Deployment of low and zero-carbon infrastructure.
Papers should be submitted by 31 March 2021 to the editors:
Please CC firstname.lastname@example.org when you submit material or have any questions.
The minimum word count of articles should be 5,000 words (excluding footnotes, endnotes, appendices, tables, summary, among others). Articles should include abstracts or summaries of 150-200 words. The layout of the articles should conform to OGEL's submission guidelines available at www.ogel.org/contribute.asp (more information available upon request).
Feel free to forward this call for papers to colleagues who may be interested in contributing to the special issue.
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