Energy Security and Climate Stability Must be Made Compatible, IEA Tells COP 7

(Marrakesh) — 8 November 2001

The following is a statement for delivery at the COP 7 meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, by Robert Priddle, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency

I thank our gracious hosts for this opportunity to speak on behalf of the International Energy Agency, which has for long been deeply engaged in the climate issue. Since we met last year in The Hague, the climate change process has taken a leap forward. But at the same time, the world has become economically and politically more troubled.

The energy sector’s commitment to contain climate change has not lessened; but we all have to accommodate ourselves to a bleaker economic and political situation:

  • a world-wide recession, which has shaken our economies and brought dangerous volatility to energy markets;
  • the terrorist outrage of September 11, which has sown military and political uncertainty;
  • within the energy sector itself, electricity shortages and blackouts resulting from inadequate past investment and, in a few cases, from ill-designed market reform.

Even as the political and economic climate worsens, new studies by the IEA and others point to the enormous new investments needed to furnish energy to growing economies.

In these circumstances, security of energy supply is, again, high on the political agenda.

This new situation demands a measure of rebalancing between the elements of sustainable development -- economic, environmental and social.

Energy ministers have unequivocally accepted the obligation to render energy activities more environmentally benign. The complementary proposition is that environmental progress must be compatible with enhanced security of energy supply. The International Energy Agency will continue to provide a bridge between these concerns.

The first requirement is for good information. The IEA will maintain and refine our annual statistics on CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion. The World Energy Outlook series will spell out energy needs and how they can be met. We will seek out technology solutions which serve the joint needs of energy security and a healthy climate. This means more intensive research and development, but also world-wide deployment of such technologies. As in the past, we will seek to engage all countries - developed and developing, producers and consumers - in the struggle against climate change. We will continue our analysis of more efficient end-use of energy in transport, buildings and elsewhere. We seek solutions which marshal market forces to achieve realistic climate goals. The flexible mechanisms in the Kyoto Protocol fall squarely into this category - but only so long as they are governed by simple and comprehensible rules.

Renewable energy sources can serve both climate objectives and energy security. They will deserve continuing government support so long as their market prices fail fully to reflect these benefits. But no fuel or technology can be excluded. Carbon-intensive energy forms may also become environmentally-benign through technologies such as carbon sequestration. Advances in nuclear technology could resolve both safety fears and the dilemma of waste disposal.

In short, energy security and climate stability can be, and must be, made compatible.

In the International Energy Agency, we believe that energy supplies are secure only so long as they are produced and used in an environmentally-sensitive manner. We count on the climate-change community to recognise that security is an essential component of sustainable development, which in turn is the pre-condition for achievement of our climate goals.