At the International Energy Agency (IEA) Ministerial Meeting held in Paris on 7-8 November, CEO Magnus Hall was invited to give an address at the conference dinner on Tuesday evening. Two other prominent figures also spoke on this occasion, namely Rick Perry and Rajkumar Singh, the energy ministers of the USA and India respectively.
Among the guests were ministers from the 29 member states as well as senior executives from some of the world’s leading companies from the industry, energy and finance sectors.
What did you say in your address?
“I spoke about how we see electrification as a way of tackling climate change. This applies to transport, heat and not least within heavy industry, which we demonstrate via our industrial cooperation to promote carbon free steel, cement and biodiesel,” says Hall.
How was it received?
“As this was a dinner, there was no direct discussion, but what I said was well received, especially by those who agree with me. Of course we can say that the big oil companies, who were also present, have a different view of the future than we and the other electricity-based companies do. Some of them still find it hard to accept what we are presenting, and I understand that. At the same time, it does not change our conviction that this is the route we will be taking.”
USA’s Energy Secretary Ross Perry, who sees climate change somewhat differently, also spoke there. What did he say?
“Perry said nothing about climate change, which we could perhaps have expected. Instead he spoke about the energy transition and that the Americans will nevertheless be greatly expanding their investment in renewables, but not in the climate context in the way that we are doing.”
How does such a conference affect Vattenfall?
“I’m not sure that it means a lot for Vattenfall, but I have certainly acquired a greater understanding of how various countries face different challenges as regards the energy transition. That does not change my conviction, but we must also have a realistic view of our business and political environment and respond to it accordingly. It is clear that there are those who don’t share our view that fossil-free is the only solution, and that applies not only to the USA. In contrast, we in Europe still have more or less the same agenda, even though the way forward may look different.”
Magnus Hall describes the IEA conference as a good way of initiating contacts with key interested parties.
“I met a number of energy ministers from countries which are of interest to us. It is clear that Vattenfall has a good reputation. Although we have not been so active in the IEA context so far, we may well be invited again to the next meeting in two years, as we are seen to have a good and interesting agenda which is worth taking up in this context,” he says.
Gender diversity issue in focus at side event
The IEA Ministerial Conference included a side event on Tuesday morning entitled Women in Clean Energy with the aim of raising awareness among decision-makers about the importance of increasing the proportion of women in the energy sector. The total share of women in the industry is currently very small, and the IEA has set up a special initiative, Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C3E), to act as an international platform toward promoting greater diversity and encouraging more women to make a career in the energy sector.
Annika Viklund, Head of Vattenfall Distribution and former Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Vattenfall, is an ambassador for the C3E programme and held an introductory address at the Women in Clean Energy event:
“I stressed that the shift to enable the energy transition we are facing needs to involve everyone in society, and in particular both genders. This is something we must do together. It is clear today that there is a genuine international engagement and an understanding in the industry about the necessity of getting more women involved, both generally and in leading positions,” she says.
How does Vattenfall compare with other energy companies in this respect?
“Vattenfall has worked with diversity issues for many years and it is clear that we are widely seen as a forerunner in the industry. But we also have a strong advocate for gender equality and diversity in our CEO Magnus Hall, who is greatly committed to this cause, and we have an energy minister who describes himself as part of a feminist government that is strongly committed to gender equality. It is naturally very encouraging to receive recognition from others for our work, but that does not mean that we can relax our efforts. To the contrary, we will intensify them,” says Viklund.
Magnus Hall also took part in Tuesday morning’s side event:
“My contribution was to point out that it is a business decision for us to work towards greater diversity, as we are convinced that it contributes to making us better at what we do. This was a new viewpoint for many people in the public and was greatly appreciated,” says Hall.