Second Forum on Climate Change-Energy Security Nexus

26 June 2013

The IEA and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office met in London with a group of leaders from business and government, on Wednesday, 26 June, for the second Nexus Forum on strategies for enhancing energy systems’ resilience to the impacts of a changing climate.

The Nexus meetings promote dialogue and support the development of co-ordinated responses to enhance energy resilience. This is an emerging area of interest for the IEA, as it goes to the Agency’s core mission of enhancing energy security. The inaugural Nexus meeting was held at the IEA headquarters in Paris last November, where IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven opened the discussion on the scope for, and limits of, adaptability in existing energy systems and processes.

The talks Wednesday, opened by Barbara Woodward, Director General Economic and Consular at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, centred on two themes for building resilience in the energy sector and in the critical economic and social networks that rely upon it: cities and the insurance industry. The talks take place under Chatham House rules, allowing candid sharing of information and experience on how to prepare for possible effects on both suppliers and end-users of energy.

While climate change is a global phenomenon, impacts will vary by region and be felt most acutely at the local level, so local authorities must be prepared to respond. The IEA projects that urban energy use, driven by rising population and technology markets, will make up three-quarters of global energy consumption worldwide by 2030.  At the Nexus Forum, it was agreed that greater vertical and horizontal co-ordination across governments will be needed and that city-level adaptation plans should be developed which include energy resilience.

The insurance industry is another front-line player with a strong interest in promoting actions to increase energy system resilience to climate change. In 2011, overall loss from disasters and extreme weather events was USD 380 billion from 820 events. Forum participants discussed opportunities for governments and private insurers to co-ordinate their responses and how to ensure that the appropriate capital structures are in place to support properly adapted climate risk-management structures.

In parallel, the IEA continues in-house work supporting these resilience-building initiatives by compiling resilience policy information in its PAMS Databases, coupled with analytical work being carried out across the Agency and linked to modelling future climate impacts on energy systems, such as that included in the IEA World Energy Outlook Special Report “Redrawing the Climate Map” and expected in the Energy Technology Perspectives series.

The discussion helped chart the course for future Nexus Forum discussions and Didier Houssin, Director of the IEA Sustainable Policy and Technology Directorate, noted that the next meeting would most likely explore the challenge of enhancing climate/energy resilience in the electricity sector.