What Price Energy Transformation?
On April 24 and 25, GMF, in partnership with the Berlin-based Ecologic Institute for International & European Environmental Policy and funding from the EU Commission, the ERP program, and the Böll Foundation and the Danish Embassy, hosted the final seminar of a three-part strategy series entitled "What Price Energy Transformation?" in Brussels.
Participants were drawn from both sides of the Atlantic, and included experts from the NGO and think tank communities, government officials, and scholars. Part of a three-part seminar series, the final event focused on the security aspects of nexus of energy and climate change and brought together among others a core group of 20 attendees who had been participants of all three meetings. In attendance were also observers from the EU Council and the NATO Secretary General's office.
Day one of the final seminar dealt with the different security threats that arise out of climate change. Participants discussed the impact climate change has on weak and fragile states, the newfound power that resource-rich countries have, and the possibilities of world-wide cooperation in combating climate change.
Helga Schmid, director of Javier Solana's Policy Unit and Jamie Shea, director of Policy Planning at NATO gave keynote comments at a working dinner that concluded day one activities. Schmid noted that her office recently authored a policy paper on the security implications of climate change and Shea pointed to the fact that energy security, while not formally on NATO's agenda, had been addressed at the April Bucharest Summit.
Day two was used by the participants to create a common final document.
Detailed below are the outcomes of the three sessions:
- Climate Change and Security: A New Threat Landscape
This session gave a broad overview of the threats facing the world due to climate change. Six major threats were identified 1) an increase in weak and fragile states; 2) the risks for the global economic development; 3) the risk of international distributional conflict; 4) the risks for human rights; 5) increased migration; and 6)overstretching of classic security policy.
The discussion evolved mainly around the question of how and by whom these threats can be addressed. Participants agreed that while many of these threats will occur in the developing world, it is the developed world that has the resources and the moral obligation to tackle these threats. However, participants were unsure whether the developed world will take on the responsibility. On the one hand, the developed world may turn inward. On the other hand, it may itself be overwhelmed by some of the consequences of climate change. China was also discussed as a major emitter of CO2 and need for China to be playing a more vital role in climate policy.
- Energy Security: New Risks, New Tensions
This session was possibly the most controversial one of the day as it evolved around the roles of China and Russia in a globalized world that has to combat and/or deal with the consequences of climate change. Some participants were of the opinion that with their rising economic influence in the world, countries like China, India, and Russia would form a loose alliance against the West and challenge it. As the West needs resources, it would be increasingly dependent on other parts of the world, and energy would soon be at the core of the evolving power play. Current examples cited in the discussions: Russia's use of its gas resources as a political tool, and competition of Nordic countries in the Arctic region. Other participants drew a much more optimistic picture. They pointed out that China is doing more to fight climate change. They also stressed that Russian, Chinese, or Venezuelan companies have no interest in antagonizing the West. This could be seen in the fact that Russia wants to cooperate with Norway on the Stockman oil and gas fields after all, and that Venezuela is cooperating again with Western oil companies.
- Options for Multilateral Regulation
The discussion at this session evolved around the question of how to create multilateral coalitions of states and what these might look like. Again, participants were divided as to what were the best solutions. While some were of the opinion that a "Coalition of the Willing" of states would be the best or at least most likely way forward at this point, others argued that a world-wide agreement under a UN umbrella was necessary to achieve the best possible outcomes.
The proponents of flexible coalition models argued that as there are so many different agents with such different interests in this game, it might just not be feasible to try to reach for an overarching agreement. They pointed out that it would be easier for a coalition of Mexico, the United States and Canada to come to a climate change agreement than for all countries of the world combined, as these three countries have a lot more shared interests.
The proponents of a UN framework pointed out that states might only be willing to mitigate if they know that all other states are doing the same. Also, it was stressed that countries that caused and countries that suffer from climate change are in very different places of the world which means that an equal sharing of responsibilities can only be reached together.