Energy Transition

What is energy literacy and why is it important? Malaysia’s programme sees the potential

Man making cookware with sparks flying in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Malaysia is piloting an energy literacy programme.

The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Malaysia is piloting an energy literacy programme. Image: Unsplah/Jason Mavrommatis

Olivia Zeydler
Lead, Strategic Integration, C4IR Energy and Materials, World Economic Forum
Fabian Bigar
Chief Executive Officer, MyDigital Corporation, Head of Malaysia Centre for 4IR
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  • Energy literacy is crucial for an equitable energy transition and essential as individuals are impacted by the energy transition in myriad ways.
  • This means ensuring people understand the complexity behind these transformations, including their scope and scale, and the impact of different facets of the energy transition.
  • The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Malaysia and the World Economic Forum’s Centre for Energy and Materials are piloting a programme that supports the country’s young people and research communities in unpacking the complexities of the energy triangle.

The world is at a critical inflection point where societies and industries are rapidly transforming. Changing our energy systems to be cleaner while meeting energy needs worldwide and ensuring stable and secure futures requires large-scale transformations in industry and society.

Governments, business leaders and civil society organizations are all grappling with how to transform systems. However, those who are both crucial to and affected by these changes must understand the transformation and how it affects them. They cannot be left behind.

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Why energy literacy is important

Energy literacy is key to broadening understanding of the complexities behind energy systems. From individual consumption habits to acceptance of new energy infrastructure to job creation, energy systems affect the public's day-to-day activities. It is crucial to increase public awareness of the energy system's multifaceted nature to build a future energy system for all.

Investing in energy transition promises lasting socioeconomic gains. Individuals are key in realizing a rapid, equitable and inclusive energy transition.

Energy transition triangle.
Energy transition triangle. Image: World Economic Forum

Wider public support must be sought to support an equitable and inclusive energy transition and prepare individuals for its implications on society, the economy, and culture. This means ensuring people understand the complexity behind these transformations, including their scope and scale, and the impact of different facets of the energy transition.

That would help ensure its inclusivity and society’s readiness for it.

While energy equity and inclusivity are essential to building a robust, resilient, and fit energy system in time for the 2030 goals, stakeholders at different levels – individuals, communities, businesses, and governments – must be engaged as the energy transition will play out at these different levels.

How can it be scaled?

It has become increasingly clear that firmly integrating equity and inclusivity into the business and economic case is essential to driving business opportunity. However, economic development and wider public support for the energy transition must happen in tandem for quick progression, requiring action across multiple areas of the energy system to set the pace for reaching key milestones in 2030 and 2050.

The shift towards a future energy system will be a multidimensional process that differs by market and country. Everyone will drive it and must play their part: consumers, financiers, innovators, producers and policymakers. ​

Energy Transition Index transition readiness trend, 2014-2023.
Energy Transition Index transition readiness trend, 2014-2023. Image: World Economic Forum

Some of the approaches needed to achieve a secure, equitable and sustainable energy system by 2050 include:

  • Transforming energy demand and doubling energy efficiency.
  • Enabling the rapid and responsible deployment of clean energy supply and delivery infrastructure.
  • Strengthening the economic and business case for the transition.
  • Driving industrial transformation that unlocks system value.
  • Scaling up and deploying technologies and innovation.

Fostering an equitable energy transition is also key to scaling up and increasing general energy literacy is a core component.

Who is moving to bridge energy literacy

The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) in Malaysia is taking on the challenge of improving energy literacy by supporting the country’s young people and research communities in unpacking the complexities of the energy triangle. C4IR Malaysia and the World Economic Forum's Centre for Energy and Materials are piloting an energy literacy programme to increase public awareness and understanding of the energy transition.

Malaysia ranked 35th among 120 countries on its energy system performance under the Energy Transition Index 2023. The Energy Transition Index provides data and insights on the energy and industry transition to guide transition efforts. It seeks to raise awareness around the gaps and opportunities for transitioning energy and industrial systems.

At the same time, Malaysia has committed to achieving 70% of energy coming from renewable resources by 2050, with strategies and plans highlighted under the National Energy Transition Roadmap (NETR). As a country that has traditionally been a strong regional trader in fossil fuels, this is a significant commitment that must involve all segments of society. Because of this, energy transition literacy is made much more important.

The energy literacy programme will uncover the different analyses that went into the ranking and engage the public on what is needed to advance energy equity, sustainability and security within the energy transition to enable positive economic and social development.

The pilot programme will be amplified through the Centre for Energy and Material’s global work to expand this approach and curriculum to different audiences worldwide.

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Related topics:
Energy TransitionFourth Industrial Revolution
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