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US Wind Power Sector Could Lose 35,000 Jobs, Despite Strong Q1

Source: American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)

The U.S. wind power industry reported strong Q1 results, although challenges for the industry lie ahead due to the coronavirus crisis. According to the American Wind Energy Association’s first quarter report, the industry installed more than 1,800 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity, while the volume of projects under construction set a new record, with 24,690 MW under construction across the country. 

The industry also experienced an advancement in turbine technology and offshore wind in Q1. Wind energy is now the largest provider of renewable energy in the U.S., supplying more than 7% of the nation’s electricity in 2019, enough to power 32 million homes.

However, much like the rest of the economy, the wind energy sector is experiencing significant challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 25 GW of planned wind projects are at risk, representing $35 billion in investment. The wind power industry represents more than 114,000 jobs in the U.S. economy and could lose more than 35,000 jobs as the economy retracts, the AWEA warns.

Executives Are Too Optimistic About a Return to Normal

Source: Oliver Wyman Pandemic Navigator; https://pandemicnavigator.oliverwyman.com/

Note: Each example represents only one of many possible pathways to the herd immunity threshold; pathways become more numerous and flexible the further out the target date.

Many executives are making planning decisions based on the notion that by the very beginning of 2021, things will get “back to normal.” However, according to recent Oliver Wyman analysis, the long haul will be longer than most expect with normalcy unlikely before Q3 2021.

Recent news on 90-95% vaccine efficacy and significantly higher daily case run rates than those examined above will also have an impact on timing to herd immunity. Taken together, an average new daily case rate of 120,000 and a 90% efficacy vaccine, can improve the timeline by over a month and a half. However, the impact of such a rapid daily case run rate is dramatic — it would result in an additional ~200,000 deaths as compared to a run rate of 70,000 new cases per day. 

Given the long haul in front of us, companies may need to consider if what has been working for the past seven months can be sustained for the next 9 to 12.

Coronavirus Pushes Millions of Children Further Into Extreme Poverty

Source: World Bank & UNICEF

Globally, one-in-six children lived in extreme poverty prior to coronavirus. A UN study released in September showed that an additional 150 million children were already pushed into poverty as a result of the pandemic. This number will likely continue to grow from COVID-19’s impact on income generation and food security, according to a report by UNICEF and the World Bank Group. 

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 65.8% of children living in extreme poverty, followed by South Asia. Nearly 20% of children under five-years-old in developing countries live in extremely poor households. These regions especially have limited access to resources, such as water, education, food and electricity. Studies show that children in poverty have a higher chance of developing long-term health complications. 

The UN Sustainable Development Goals aim to prioritize funding and international cooperation to help end extreme poverty by 2030. When the public and private sector work together with communities, “change happens: families move out of poverty, children are protected from diseases, girls become students, instead of brides, and much more,” according to the United Nations Foundation. 

The Opportunity for Countries to Invest in Carbon Neutrality

Source: Oliver Wyman

China — the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases — announced that it will be carbon-neutral by 2060. The country accounts for nearly half of energy-related carbon emissions, mainly caused by its coal consumption. North America and Europe combined contribute to nearly 20% of the industry’s global carbon emissions, according to Oliver Wyman. Britain, the EU, Japan and South Korea recently announced their own commitments to carbon neutrality, whereas the U.S. officially left the Paris Climate Agreement in early November. 

To lower their carbon footprints, countries will need to focus investments in technical advancements that have the potential to reduce carbon dioxide in the industrial sector — which accounts for 34% of all energy-related carbon emissions. 

In the last few months, countries have prioritized the economic fallout from COVID-19 and helping businesses recover. However, the businesses that bring a “green lens” into their recovery plans have the potential to create growth, efficiency and innovation that extend beyond high-carbon industries, like energy and transport, and benefit all sectors. 

Americans Are Less Inclined to Share Data If Contact Tracing Steps Are Unclear

Source: Pew Research Center

Less than half of Americans feel comfortable sharing personal data for contact tracing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to a survey from Pew Research Center. Though 51% of adult respondents say they would likely be resistant to at least one of the actions involved in contact tracing, 48% say they would be comfortable with engaging in all three actions, which entail speaking to officials, sharing location and data, and quarantining if needed. 

About four-in-10 Americans have low confidence in public health organizations’ ability to keep their data safe from hackers. Half of respondents to the survey felt the same regarding sharing their data with the federal government. 

Most countries have enforced comprehensive contact tracing options during the pandemic, through apps, for example, unlike the U.S., which has been relying on manual options. Sixty-eight percent of Americans feel that their personal information is less secure compared to five years ago, so to successfully enforce contact tracing apps while also maintaining American trust, the government needs to communicate privacy policies clearly.

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