Home>YLS 2023 - How to succeed in the energy transition


YLS 2023 - How to succeed in the energy transition

Replay the session and read a summary below.



  • Farah El Yacoubi, Advanced Global Studies, PSIA
  • Ditte Juul Jørgensen, Director-General, DG Energy, European Commission
  • Damilola Ogunbiyi, Special Representative of the UNSG for Sustainable Energy for All (via zoom)

Moderated by:

  • Shiv Someshwar, Visiting Professor, Sciences Po and Columbia University

Introduced by:

  • Charles Reinhart, International Energy, PSIA


Since the rise in worldwide inflation following the Russo-Ukrainian war, energy transition has come to the forefront of headlines. To address it, Charles Reinhart offered to define the “us” behind the objective of “security, equity and sustainability for all”. Vividly moderated by Shiv Someshwar the panel sought to explore ways of ensuring a just energy transition.

Towards an equitable allocation of resources

Ditte Juul Jørgensen opened the debate by reminding us that an “energy mix is absolutely essential in order to address the climate crisis”. She underlined that immediate concerns of blackout risks are related to a significant lack of investment in renewable energies. Thus, she claimed that “we have to make sure we make necessary efforts in a fair way.” Following this insightful intervention, Damilola Ogunbiyi joined the conversation. With a striking tone, she drew attention to Africa by asserting that “you can’t say that anybody lives a dignified life without access to energy.” She called on States with a stable energy system to fund less developed countries. She concluded by highlighting that “when half of the world does something, the other still lives under the poverty threshold”.

Sacrificing individual comfort for the common good

Farah El Yacoubi then stated that “we are already in a situation in which we have the responsibility to achieve a fair energy transition”. According to her, global policies should incentivise national measures. Ditte Juul Jørgensen reacted by foreseeing long-term targets which would clarify international regulations and bring investors to the table. She followed by pointing out the necessity of enhanced private-public partnership since “if we don’t scale up investments, we are not going to achieve our target”. She exemplified her statement by the European cooperative system which enabled the development of publicly and privately funded solar energy.

An intergenerational struggle

The conversation took an amusing turn when Shiv Someshwar asked both the European Director General and the young advocate about frustrations caused by generational gaps. Farah El Yacoubi expressed her generation’s anxiety about climate change, which triggers her anger when older generations seek to achieve an utopian industrial growth. For her part, Ditte Juul Jørgensen advocated that “we can make better use of our democratic institutions”. She took the last European Parliament’s elections as an example of a “very clear democratic standpoint” regarding climate-sensitive european politicians.

Tackling externalities and green energies

Following this intergenerational dialogue, sharper questions came from the audience. When challenged about externalities coming from industries, Ditte Juul Jørgensen replied that “energy efficiency is absolutely critical”. Indeed, she claims that Europeans must lower their consumption before even thinking about greening their energy system, especially regarding demands which will increase in the rest of the world, as pointed out earlier by Damilola Ogunbiyi. She continued on green taxonomy by adopting a realistic lens : “we can’t wait for new technologies which may never come up”. She called for strong immediate action and distanced herself from the technological utopia which would enable the richest populations to consume endless amounts of energy.

How can the European Union’s (EU) leadership be strengthened?

Finally, Ditte Juul Jørgensen confirmed her faith in the EU becoming an inspiration for the rest of the world. “Some countries are faster than others and they show you you can do it”, she added. However, she remained critical regarding European regulations towards fossil energies companies which, she fears, would not go far enough. Hence, she believes in the EU’s “bubbling democratic debate” which can sometimes be seen “as a discrepancy” as it a way to make fair decisions, which, ultimately, go back to national governments’ own will. According to her, “structural solutions must align with long-term policies” which, in the meantime, stimulate external investments. She concluded by a faithful message : “my request to you is, please, vote in your next elections”.

(c) An article by Jade Alves-Gabiron, a student in the Master in Environmental Policy at PSIA.

More information about the Youth & Leaders Summit 2023.