Albert Concepción, director of Foro Industria y Energía
COP28 has concluded. As in many other aspects, the perception of the conclusions depends on the perspective of those who transmit them and those who receive them. While for some the final agreement is a clear sign that fossil energies still have a way to go as transitional energies, for others the apparent lack of commitment to eradicate these energy sources is nothing more than a stone on the road to a real transition to renewable energies.
Beyond interpretations, industry worldwide, and Spanish industry in particular, continues to be a passive observer of decisions that are taken without apparently taking into account its real needs, which are also the needs of society itself. It is symptomatic that the COP28 agreement does not once specifically mention industry.
Some would probably argue that other activities such as agriculture, finance or services are also not cited. But that is no excuse. First, because industry must be understood as a transversal element: agriculture is also industry. And second, because the service sector is directly linked to industrial production. Just ask yourself who manufactures the soft drink bottles served on the terraces of our country’s tourist destinations.
Despite its grandiloquence, COP28 does not contribute anything that we did not already know. Assuming the commitment to increase the level of renewables threefold, apart from the credibility it may have, is a logical position to take if the aim is to achieve total decarbonization by 2050. In the meantime, industry has made a commitment to make the ecological transition. It is trying to do its homework and, of course, complying with the law (of course). But it still lacks a guide to show it where it needs to go in order to achieve a clear objective on which we all agree.
We are part of a naval expedition in which the different vessels have a clear destination agreed upon by all their passengers and crew members: decarbonization. But we have not yet found the compass to guide us, or perhaps we do not know how to use it properly. Worse still, we do not even know when we want to, and will be able to, reach that destination, with the risk of both rushing and being late.
COP28 still does not provide a roadmap that specifically helps that data center in Aragon, that chemical company in Catalonia or that mechanical workshop in Vizcaya. What’s more, it may even generate doubts and uncertainty, which, as we all know, is the worst situation that industry can face. On the other hand, the Dubai climate summit seems to have tried to please everyone, which does not seem to be the best solution, because as Woody Allen says, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone”.
Fortunately, Spanish industry is not a stationary entity. Companies are moving and implementing solutions motu propio in coordination with regional and state authorities, aware that, as Daniel Perez says in his recent book “The Renewable Superpower”, the Iberian Peninsula is “the best positioned territory to lead the European energy transition”.
During Foro Sella, which was held a few weeks ago in Zaragoza, it was clear that we are facing an opportunity and that is why the industry is taking steps towards decarbonization and is taking on the ecological transformation as its own, because, as the president of Aragón, Jorge Azcón, pointed out, the industry has “crunched the numbers” and they are favorable. Perhaps the leaders who sign the agreement should also start to do so and, in this way, specify a little more what they want from us.
Implementing an orderly transition, as proposed by COP28, is something that has been on the FIE’s agenda since its foundation, aware that the success of this process is necessarily linked to a strong, efficient and competitive industry. It is only by working together that we will achieve our goal.
Aplicar una transición ordenada, como propone la COP28, es algo que está en la agenda del FIE desde su fundación, conscientes de que el éxito de este proceso está ligado necesariamente a una industria fuerte, eficiente y competitiva. Solo trabajando todos juntos conseguiremos alcanzar el objetivo.