Sponsored and moderated by Sempra Energy, we hosted the latest installment in our Global Leaders Online Forum series which featured global experts on climate change and sustainable energy.
The event’s moderator Erin Koch, Corporate Responsibility & Communications Manager at Sempra, kicked off the discussion by asking panelists how energy consumption had changed in their respective countries due to the current pandemic. Dr. Nilmini Silva-Send, the assistant director and C. Hugh Friedman Fellow in Energy Law and Policy at the Energy Policy Initiatives Center at the University of San Diego School of Law, revealed that in San Diego, transportation energy consumption had decreased by 80% during the initial months of the lockdown. Our 2018 IVLP participant Muhammad Leroy A. Gomez, who is a climate scientist in The Gambia, added that prior to the pandemic most of the nation’s electricity came from fossil fuels. In fact, less than 50% of the nation has access to electricity, which mainly resides in tourist areas. Though this has greatly impacted The Gambia’s GDP, due to the pandemic, there is now a larger mix of green energy options.
Jeremy Martin, Vice President of Energy & Sustainability at the Institute of the Americas discussed the climate change imperative as the real driver in energy transition as well as the importance of addressing sustainability in the energy sector as 80% of emissions are derived from it. The panel of experts went on to provide their insights on the following topics: recent rolling blackouts in California, innovation and technology in climate action, and their outlook on the future. Douty Chibamba, a professor of climate change and sustainable development at the University of Zambia, highlighted that Zambia’s green energy efforts are mostly conducted by the private sector. He also shared his optimism for the array of potential new green energy jobs in the post-COVID era. Other common sentiments included confidence in advancements in technology and innovation, and the enthusiasm displayed by global youth in taking care of the environment.
During Q&A our audience asked great questions to our speakers, including one to Mohammed that helped us understand the disastrous effects of climate change in The Gambia. While climate change is a global issue, the panel concluded that youth in developing countries will be the ones to watch as they are now leading innovation in the fight against climate change. The San Diego Diplomacy Council is honored to have hosted this dynamic event that brought nations together to further explore this global challenge.