Tribune. From the G20 in Rome to COP26 in Glasgow, the global conversation on energy and climate reveals a fundamental truth: Everyone wants to save the planet, but no one wants to see national energy bills increase. In their Rome declaration, G20 leaders underscored their commitment to ensure a “Just and orderly transition of our energy systems ensuring an affordable price, including for the most vulnerable households and businesses”.
At COP26 in Glasgow, US President Joe Biden was even clearer, stressing the need to push OPEC and Russia “To pump more oil” to contain the global rise in energy prices. As ironic as they may seem – calling for increased oil and gas production, while pledging to increase climate ambitions – these positions should come as no surprise.
Energy is a complex issue. Behind simple everyday actions, such as turning on a light or refueling a car at the pump, hide complex technologies and massive infrastructures, which often link distant countries, or even different continents. Many technical steps are required to extract, process, transport and distribute traditional energy sources, such as oil and gas.
Energy, a vital element of our societies
Likewise, many steps are necessary to capture the energy of the sun, wind or water and distribute it in our homes, our industries or our cars. Energy governance is no less complicated than its technical aspects. As energy is the lifeblood of our modern societies, governments have traditionally played an important role in this sector, driven by different goals, such as ensuring citizens a reliable and affordable energy supply.
The multifaceted nature of energy policy can be represented by a triangle whose vertices are security, competitiveness and sustainability. Energy security is linked to the uninterrupted availability of energy. It has long and short term dimensions. Long-term energy security is about making timely investments to deliver energy according to the needs of society.
Short-term energy security focuses on the ability of the energy system to respond quickly to sudden changes in the balance between supply and demand. As energy is vital to the functioning of our societies, energy security is a top priority for any government around the world.
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Energy: “Meeting the objectives of security, competitiveness and sustainability is one of the most formidable challenges of the 21st century”