The ETI 2020 analysis indicates gradual progress on the energy transition over the past six years. A majority of countries have made varying degrees of progress on the three dimensions of the energy triangle: economic development and growth, environmental sustainability, and energy access and security. The lack of consistent progress in many countries, however, highlights the challenges in navigating the complexity of the energy transition. The gaps between the top performers and the rest have been steadily decreasing, mainly due to rising levels of political commitment and improving access to capital for investment in emerging economies. This also highlights the need for transformative and breakthrough solutions to unlock the next wave of substantial gains for advanced economies.
Going forward, new challenges are likely to emerge on the economic development and growth pillar of the energy triangle. Apart from budgetary implications on oil exporting countries, the low energy price environment could lead to constraints on investment and R&D, potentially affecting the pipeline of new technologies necessary for the energy transition. Energy access and security, despite being the pillar with higher scores and progress, is being tested from the widespread and frequent disruptions caused by extreme weather events. The rapidly unfolding repercussions of the COVID‑19 pandemic across the energy system illustrate the need for resilience – not just in physical infrastructure and cyberspace – but also in energy transition policies, roadmaps and international cooperation mechanisms.
The energy system has strong forward and backward linkages in a modern economy, and shocks in the energy demand and supply outlook will create ripple effects across the interlinked industries and services. With the current uncertain short‑term outlook, the imperatives highlighted in this report can help create the right fundamentals for accelerated recovery. While certain industries or countries might stand to gain in the short term from a low energy price environment, efforts towards the long‑term goal of a transition to a sustainable, secure, affordable and inclusive future energy system should be maintained.
As countries act to control the economic and social consequences of COVID‑19, the situation today could provide an opportunity to leapfrog into the energy transition. Applying economic stimulus to areas such as energy infrastructure modernization, research and development, and human capital development can deliver long‑term sustainable economic growth, while also achieving step change in the energy transition. Policy‑makers, private‑sector entities, civil society groups and consumers will play a critical role in this process – highlighting the importance of a common understanding of the priorities among all stakeholder groups, and increased multistakeholder collaboration at the national, regional and global levels.