Don't ignore climate in post-Covid recovery — Kavafyan

MHI Vestas boss Philippe Kavafyan believes combating climate change should be considered in any stimulus packages agreed following the Covid-19 crisis.

Post-Covid-19 recovery packages should consider the green transition, says top OEM executives
Post-Covid-19 recovery packages should consider the green transition, says top OEM executives

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The current global health crisis is set to be followed by worldwide recessions as governments move to shore up and restore economies after the pandemic subsides.

Kavafyan drew on the experience of the 2008 financial crisis, where banks were deemed "too big to fail" and secured government bailouts.

After the coronavirus crisis sweeping the world, similar support packages should be used to promote the energy transition.

"Everyone remembers what happened in 2008 when the banks were too big to fail and there was a major bailout programme. We saved the banks and everyone is still paying for it," Kavayfan said, speaking on WindEurope's Sofa Talks webinar series, moderated by WindEurope's deputy CEO Malgosia Bartosik.

"Here's an opportunity for the stimulus package to be useful, not only to fight against the virus and recovering the economy, but we could think about the biggest challenge we still have, which is the climate crisis.

"We can talk about flattening the statistics of the people affected by the virus today, but the real curve we need to flatten is the one affecting the changing climate and the reduction of emissions," Kavafyan said.

"As the wind industry, we have a real chance to collectively talk loudly about the opportunity. If we need to have a stimulus package, if we want to recover the economy, let's use it in a way that is sustainable. Instead of being only too big to fail for the banks, we should say the climate cause is too important to ignore," he added.

This should include support for the rapid expansion of renewable energy to support the energy transition. However, to achieve this, the renewables sector needs to convince administrations that it is the best option for support.

Industry span

Alfonso Faubel, onshore CEO at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, who was also on the webinar, suggested it was wind power's ability to provide benefits to wider sectors that would win the argument.

"How many auxiliary industries does renewable energy touch?" Faubel asked. In order to overcome any financial crisis, it is the governments' responsibility to "provide the tools, guidance and policies needed to offset that", he added.

"What better industry than the wind industry that is resilient, that is able to touch so many sectors, as a way to accelerate the recovery? That is a very solid argument," said Faubel.

Kavayan agreed.

"We are a reliable investment channel. Governments want to invest where we return local jobs, sustainable growth, and introduce a more sustainable future," he said.

"We need to be a complete solution. To be a solution for other people to win. We are completely dependent on infrastructure: we need foundations, we need substations, we need grid interconnection. You need infrastructure in the harbour.

"Pushing us is not just pushing the wind industry, it is pushing the entire [infrastructure] sector. The reason why we are good candidates to be pushed is we are not the only winners.

"If we push the wind sector, there's the infrastructure that comes with it," Kavafyan concluded, 

Watch the full Sofa Talks with Philippe Kavafyan, CEO of MHI Vestas and Alfonso Faubel, CEO Onshore of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, here:

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