Four key points from the World Energy Outlook 2012 report

By Stephanie Rico
November 23rd, 2012

Robyn LuhningDear 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.

Point #1

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.

Point #2

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!

At Wells Fargo, we are working to accelerate the energy efficiency opportunity through our own operations, strategic partnerships, and by working together with our customers.

Point #3

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.

Point #4

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!

Stephanie Rico

Stephanie Rico

Stephanie focuses on helping Wells Fargo achieve its goal of accelerating a transition to a “greener” economy via finance and support of our customers who are looking to take advantage of the benefits of renewable energy and clean technology. Stephanie has a BA in Social Science, Interdisciplinary Studies from San Francisco State University and an MBA from DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business.

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Joseph Wallaceon November 26, 2012 at 12:57 pm:

In reference to point #2, I also think that education for employees at the store level is vital. [The importance of energy conservation and everyday practices that can make a difference] I am always surprised at how many people do not know where there electricity comes from- and therefore they tend to be less careful about the energy they use (leaving lights on when not in the room,leaving computers on all night for convenience despite the energy waste, and many other situations) If employees were educated about energy usage and the ecological impacts overconsumption- I know the entire company could really reduce its carbon footprint.

Krista Van Tasselon January 16, 2013 at 11:17 am:

@ Joseph Wallace – Thank you for your suggestion. I think you are are exactly right about providing more information on how to conserve and why it is important. We do our best to provide energy education (as well as recycling, water conservation, paper reduction and commute education) to all of our team members (at our stores and in our corporate locations). We run an annual campaign around energy efficiency (usually in March when we celebrate Earth Hour). Our Green Teams also run local programs like energy scavenger hunts or calculating the impact of even smaller actions to really help team members understand energy usage. We’d certainly welcome more suggestions on this topic as well.

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