To be sure, breaking down silos is never easy. During his two years as a Project Officer at the European Commission, in Brussels, Andres Fernandez, Class of 2015 discovered that even well-meaning projects can have a rocky start. For example, one of the best ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Europe is to increase cross-border transmission of renewable electricity. But to do that, countries must pay for that infrastructure. “Whether France wants to accept Spanish clean electricity, or the United Kingdom wants to be connected to Europe for security of supply, these are huge political, regulatory and economic challenges to overcome,” he says.
Fernandez now works for the Carbon Trust in Mexico City, where he helps Latin American governments decarbonize their economy by encouraging clean energy and sustainable finance. But lessons learned in Europe remain front of mind. In 2018, France and Spain finally agreed to build infrastructure to benefit from the plentiful renewable energy Spain was producing, but only after the European Commission cofunded the construction. For Fernandez, stories like this illustrate that to move away from fossil fuels the world needs ambitious ideas paired with appropriate policy and international collaboration.