Dear Environmental Forum Readers, please join me in welcoming the newest member of our blog team, Robyn Luhning!
Robyn has more than ten years of experience working in the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR), helping companies manage complex issues, define strategies, and partner with external stakeholders. At Wells Fargo, Robyn oversees environmental and social risk from a business lending and investment perspective (i.e. helping us make sure we continue lending to the best-in-class of each industry).
Robyn will share with us posts that provide insights into how environmental issues play into our financing approach, as well as posts related to current issues and reports. (—SR)
For my first post, I want to share my thoughts on the International Energy Agency‘s (IEA) “World Energy Outlook 2012” report, issued November 12, 2012. As with most environmental and social matters, energy issues are complex; sustainable solutions remain elusive. Below are four points from the report I found especially compelling.
The United States will increase its oil production to place our country ahead of Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading producer of oil by 2020 and will become a net oil exporter by 2024.
There are many benefits associated with this—national security, jobs, economic development … and the list continues. However, how does increased oil and gas production in the U.S. impact investment in other solutions like renewable energy and energy efficiency? And how do we as a society manage environmental and social risks associated with increased oil and gas production in the U.S.?
At Wells Fargo, we manage risks through established policies (PDF), procedures, and corporate values to help us ensure we do business with the environmentally and socially responsible companies within each industry.
Industry could slash global energy demand in half by 2035 by taking simple efficiency measures without any major technological breakthroughs.
Slashing global energy demand by half without any breakthroughs? Let’s do it!
The report also predicts energy production’s use of water will grow at twice the rate of energy demand. Not only do shale gas and oil extraction require large amounts of water, but the report mentions that
…water is essential to energy production: in power generation; in the extraction, transport and processing of oil, gas and coal; and, increasingly, in irrigation for crops used to produce biofuels.
At Wells Fargo, we recognize the demand for water is increasing, and we are working together with our relevant business customers to understand the risks and opportunities associated with local water trends. In terms of our own operations, we’ve set a goal to decrease our own water use by at least 15 percent from 2008 to 2020.
Finally, IEA says, “Taking all new developments and policies into account, the world is still failing to put the global energy system onto a more sustainable path.”
So, let me ask you: With the understanding that we can’t flip the switch tomorrow for carbon-free energy, how should we address the world’s transition to a “greener” energy system? What are the barriers and the opportunities? If you worked for a financial institution, how would you address this challenge?
I look forward to hearing from you!