Ensuring that the transformation of the global energy sector is people-centred

Reducing global greenhouse gas emissions in line with the goals world leaders set at the COP26 Climate Change Conference requires a fundamental transformation of the energy sector, but that will only happen if it brings benefits to people and has their support.

Ministers, industry leaders and stakeholders from civil society met today at an event in Paris organised by the International Energy Agency to discuss how to ensure that their clean energy transition policies are people-centred and inclusive.

The event – taking place just ahead of the 2022 IEA Ministerial Meeting – was chaired by Dr. Anders Hoffmann, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Danish Ministry for Climate, Energy and Utilities on behalf of Dan Jørgensen, Denmark’s Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities. Participants included Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, and energy ministers from Canada, Chile, Colombia, South Africa and many other countries. Chiagozie Udeh, Global Focal Point for the UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 Youth Constituency, provided a youth perspective on energy transitions.

In early 2021, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol convened the Global Commission on People-Centred Clean Energy Transitions to bring together voices from across governments and civil society. Headed by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark, the Global Commission held a series of meeting last year chaired by Minister Jørgensen and co-chaired by Sophie Gladima, Senegal’s Minister for Petroleum and Energy. Its work resulted in 12 recommendations published ahead of COP26 to assist decision makers with a people-centred approach to clean energy policy making that ensures the benefits and costs involved in the transformation of our energy system are distributed fairly.

The IEA has extended its work on encouraging broad social involvement in the development of policies for the clean energy transition by convening a Clean Energy Labour Council, which held its first meeting earlier this month, to focus specifically on issues related to jobs, skills and training. While the major investments needed to transform our energy systems will be a major net creator of jobs, they will not always be in the same places and require the same skills as the jobs they will replace.

Today’s meeting discussed the specific recommendations of the Global Commission and called on the IEA Secretariat to develop a work programme to expand its work on people-centred issues. The IEA will continue to work with governments, unions, businesses and all stakeholders globally to ensure clean energy transitions are truly people centred and inclusive. 

The 2022 IEA Ministerial Meeting is taking place in Paris on 23 and 24 March under the theme of accelerating global action on clean energy and energy security. It is chaired by US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. Ministers from IEA Member, Association and Accession countries, and other key partners, are taking part in the events along with top representatives from industry, finance and civil society.