International Outreach for Secure and Sustainable Energy

On December 14, I had the distinct honor of delivering the keynote address on “Energy Security and Sustainability” at the Indian National Academy of Engineering’s 2022 Annual Convention in Mumbai.

My speech highlighted the three core objectives necessary for achieving a secure and sustainable global energy supply: (1) reducing GHG emissions to 0 by 2050; (2) developing a safe and reliable energy ecosystem; and (3) adapting to the effects of climate change. Attaining these objectives will produce a safe, prosperous and innovative carbon-free world. 

Energy Security and Sustainable Development
The earth’s atmosphere is humanity’s shared treasure; we must create, obtain and deploy energy sources that will reduce the damaging impact of fossil fuels on Earth and its life-giving resources. This borderless, international challenge of linking energy security to sustainable development presents several obstacles, the greatest of which revolve around infrastructure and integration. To discover solutions to these obstacles, we must look to the future, plan for long-term resiliency, and create sustainable solutions. This is where engineering is needed the most.

Four Points of Focus
Our success in tackling the energy issue rests on four main points of focus which I shared in my address. First, energy security and transitioning to clean energy sources are not issues that stop at our national borders. They are global in scope and therefore require international solutions. Second, we need to increase the amount of capital dedicated to the energy transition by a factor of three or four within the next two years to prevent a 1.5°C global temperature increase. Third, energy security challenges often create societal pressure to expand the energy supply, including ramping up fossil fuel production. This has the potential to delay the energy transition further, so we must stay true to our mission – to find solutions for the betterment of all. Fourth, we must incorporate diversity into the bedrock of our systems to ensure supplies of energy meet the needs of a developing global population. This includes ensuring a proper balance in the food-water-energy nexus and equity among developed and underdeveloped regions.

Meeting Engineering Challenges
Generating clean energy, building infrastructure for distribution, and gaining public acceptance of these changes are daunting challenges that will require great engineering. Meeting these engineering challenges is our next step toward effecting positive change and will require capable, inter-disciplinary teams of critical thinkers, capital to ensure the attainment of both short and long term goals, social acceptance for promising new technologies and systems, and, importantly, a willingness to compromise for the sake of developing enduring solutions.

Global Obstacles Require Global Solutions
The energy decisions made today will determine our levels of prosperity and security tomorrow. Our mission is clear: invest necessary efforts and resources in the technologies that will penetrate the market to reduce greenhouse gases, boost the use of renewables, and ensure an equitable and fair transition for all communities -- worldwide.  Achieving clean, sustainable, secure energy is our shared responsibility as both engineers and as citizens of this planet.

I thank President Indranil Manna and the Indian National Academy of Engineering for this opportunity to strengthen global engineering bonds and I look forward to increased international collaboration.