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Energy Security Yes, But Climate Security Too
Published on Tuesday, June 11, 2006 by Inter Press Service
Energy Security Yes, But Climate Security Too
by Ramesh Jaura
 
BRUSSELS - Legislators from industrialised and emerging countries want the G8 heads of government to address climate change, clean energy and sustainable development when they gather next Monday in St Petersburg.

The appeal coincides with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov's remarks in Moscow that as host of this year's G8, Russian President Vladimir Putin had suggested putting energy security at the top of the summit agenda.

"The objective is to coordinate a strategy, which entails shared responsibility and shared risks and benefits," Lavrov said in an interview with the widely read daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

Legislators from 13 countries who met in Brussels Jul. 7-8 at the invitation of GLOBE International (Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment) welcomed the decision of the Russian government to build on the last G8 Summit in Gleneagles by focusing on the issue of energy security.

But they pointed out that energy security and climate security need be dealt with together. "If we do not successfully address both, we risk undermining our development, economic and security goals."

In a statement after two days of intensive discussions at the European Parliament, they said: "Climate security and energy security are inextricably linked. Energy efficiency and diversification of energy sources are key responses to both."

Legislators came from the Group of eight (G8) countries -- Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the United States, Canada and Japan -- and the 'plus five' comprising Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.

The call of legislators that form the 'G8 plus 5 climate change dialogue' is based on simple logic: Developing countries are expected to contribute 39 percent of global emissions by 2010, and independent estimates are that in the next 24 years 50 percent of global energy investment will be in developing countries.

"There is no way out. In India we need energy for development and the only way is to find ways to reconcile development needs and environmental imperatives," said former Indian environment minister Suresh Prabhu.

China is confronted with a similar dilemma. But Zhang Wantai, vice-chairman of the environment protection and resources conservation committee of the National People's Congress said that "resources conservation and environment friendly society" were the future national development model.

What can be done at the international level to help ensure low carbon investments? The World Bank's Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Clean Development Mechanism within the framework of the UN Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) are useful and important but almost peripheral given the scale of investment.

"The challenge is to identify practical actions that could make a difference in encouraging low carbon investments in rapidly increasing energy production in emerging and developing economies," says a study by Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs) in London that served as an input for a working group discussions in Brussels.

A study tabled by the World Bank at the Brussels gathering estimates that 8.1 trillion (8.1 million million) dollars will be required for making clean energy possible in the next 24 years.

"Tens of thousands of dollars" will be required for mitigating the impact of climate change, said Steve Gorman, GEF executive coordinator and lead environment specialist of the World Bank. Technology adaptation would cost between 10 to 40 billion dollars a year.

In this context, World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz sounded reassuring in a message to the Brussels Dialogue. "A number of innovative financial instruments could complement existing ones. These new options are now being assessed and will be presented in an updated version of the World Bank's board of directors and then at our annual meetings in Singapore, in September."

Summing up the consensus emerging from the Brussels dialogue, the statement said: "By using energy more efficiently and diversifying our energy sources we can reduce the energy intensity of our economies, reduce the stress on our energy infrastructure, strengthen development and, at the same time, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

"We also recognise the importance of reducing energy poverty and the need for access to energy to meet the Millennium Development Goals," the statement added. "We therefore look forward to strong outcomes from the St Petersburg summit on energy efficiency, diversification of energy sources and reducing energy poverty."

Participants at the G8 plus 5 climate change dialogue who also included representatives of the World Bank, the International Energy Agency (IEA), major energy organisations, the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) and IUCN (World Conservation Union), said they wanted next week's G8 summit to:

- Adopt stringent energy efficiency standards and better labelling for energy intensive products, taking into account the different circumstances of developed and developing countries;

- Introduce financial and tax incentives to promote the development and use of energy efficient technologies;

- Use the power of public procurement to demonstrate leadership through incorporating energy efficient technologies and practices in government buildings and purchasing decisions;

- Expand and strengthen the GEF involvement in energy efficiency projects;

- Increase public awareness about the benefits of energy efficiency; and

- Promote a diverse energy mix including the further development of low carbon energy sources and wider use of renewable energy.

Studies conducted by the IEA at the behest of the G8 show that the shift to low carbon economies as demanded by the Brussels gathering is possible.

Neil Hirst, director of IEA office for energy technology and R&D (research and development) said: "A sustainable energy future is possible, but only if we act urgently and decisively to promote, develop and deploy a full mix of energy technologies."

The full mix of energy technologies, he said, includes improved energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage (CCS), renewables and -- where acceptable -- nuclear energy.

The G8 plus 5 climate change dialogue -- initiated Feb. 24 this year with the support of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the German government, the Chinese National People's Congress, the World Bank and major energy corporations -- is set to run through the German presidency of G8 next year and the Japanese presidency in 2008.

The Brussels gathering was the second round in the dialogue launched by the GLOBE International and Com plus Alliance of Communicators for Sustainable Development of which Inter Press Service is a member. It was originally planned to take place in St. Petersburg Jul. 7-9. But due to logistical difficulties it was moved to Brussels, said British MP Malcolm Bruce who chairs Globe International.

The Brussels dialogue was hosted and chaired by the Swedish Euro-parliamentarian Anders Wijkman, rapporteur on a post-2012 climate change agreement and former deputy secretary general of the United Nations. Co-chair was British MP Joan Ruddock who sits on the Parliament's international development select committee.

The next round is scheduled for Feb.14-17 next year in Washington. The final two will be held in Germany and Japan in 2008.

"The aim is to provide a forum outside formal international negotiating structures for legislators, senior business leaders and other key decision makers to discuss a 2012 climate change agreement," Adam Mathews, executive director of the GLOBE International and the G8 plus 5 climate change dialogue said.

Copyright © 2006 IPS-Inter Press Service

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