Setting the Stage for the 2021 Global Energy Agenda

By Helima Croft
Published January 25, 2021 | 1 min read

As part of our sponsorship of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum, RBC is proud to present the inaugural report - The Global Energy Agenda. This report summarizes key findings and themes after surveying hundreds of leaders in the energy field. It also includes is a series of essays commissioned from thought leaders, including RBC Capital Markets Managing Director and Global Head of Commodity Strategy, Helima Croft. These global experts, corporate leaders, and government ministers, provide context and understanding of the energy implications of 2020 – and beyond.

2020 was a year like no other. Beyond the human and economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global energy system witnessed significant upheaval. The oil and gas industry was battered with lockdowns constraining transportation and slashing liquid fuel demand. Oil prices in the US went negative for the first time in history.

In its inaugural edition of The Global Energy Agenda, which coincides with the fifth annual Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum, the Atlantic Council sets the stage of the energy debate for the year ahead – at a time when this conversation is most needed. 

COVID-19 has accelerated the energy transition and peak oil demand is coming soon

The launch edition includes a global survey of energy leaders from governments, industry, think tanks, and academia. It reveals that most respondents (61%) believe the pandemic will accelerate the energy transition, while nearly nine in 10 think oil demand has already peaked or will do so within 20 years. Currently, 75% of the survey’s respondents believe that, by December 2021, worldwide consumption will remain below the 101 mbd figure of December 2019.

Also featured in the inaugural agenda is a series of essays commissioned from thought leaders - global experts, corporate leaders, and government ministers. They provide context and understanding of the energy implications of 2020 – and beyond. 

In the opening chapter on perspectives for the oil and gas sector, Helima Croft, Managing Director and Global Head of Commodity Strategy at RBC Capital Markets, reminisces about the Atlantic Council’s last physical gathering in Abu Dhabi in January 2020, when geopolitics seemed set to push oil prices up. “For a brief period, it looked as if OPEC might be called on to put more barrels on the market in the event there was a repeat of the type of attack we saw on September 14, when Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq facility was struck by drones and cruise missiles and half of the country’s oil output was temporarily taken offline. And yet all of these early assumptions about the oil market in 2020 were scrambled as a result of the viral outbreak in Wuhan, China,” she writes.

Other chapters focus on energy geopolitics, zooming in on US foreign policy and China’s new energy security strategy; climate change, decarbonization, and the energy transition after the Paris Agreement; new energy technologies and innovation amid momentum for hydrogen; and finally, energy and environmental justice, as 2020 brought to the fore awareness of historical and ongoing injustice against marginalized communities.

Energy and environmental justice is crucial

The unprecedented COVID-19 health crisis has accelerated the political and financial motivation to transform the energy system and combat climate change. The Atlantic Council concludes that in 2021, it is up to all of us to realize the opportunities that have emerged from the tragedies of the past year.

Read full report here

Helima Croft

Helima Croft
Head of Global Commodity Strategy and MENA Research, RBC Capital Markets

Atlantic Energy CouncilESGGeopoliticsGlobal EnergyIndustry Specific Innovations and TechnologyRenewables