An International Approach to Energy Security

There are several trends that warrant an international cooperative approach to energy security. The first is that economic growth and population gains will lead to energy demand doubling over the next 30 years, mostly in developing countries. Second, fossil fuels on current trends will continue to provide the vast majority of energy, but these resources are distributed unevenly around the world. This has contributed to a growth in global trade of energy and is the source of perceived energy insecurity.

The perception has led to confusion between energy security and energy independence. These are two different issues. Energy security, as defined by the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Agenda Council on Energy Security (on which I serve as a council member), is the reliable, stable and sustainable supply of energy at affordable prices and at an acceptable social cost. This definition recognises that environmental and other issues are inexorably linked with those of energy. Energy security, therefore, can only be achieved efficiently through global cooperation and not isolation.

The aim, therefore, should be to constitute a much more effective international system for promoting energy security which allays anxieties about the reliability of energy supplies and is rooted in the mutual interdependence of producing and consuming nations. All nations – producers and consumers, rich and poor – must be engaged while pivotal nations should be called upon to play a leadership role.

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