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Global Dialogue to Meet the Global Energy Challenge

31 May 2007

Paris, France

May I first commend H.E. Victor Khristenko, Minister of Industry and Energy of the Russian Federation and H.E. Koichiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO, on convening this important Ministerial Conference at a time of heightened energy and environmental concern around the World. I am honoured to share some perspectives on 'Energy in a Changing World' from the vantage point of the global dialogue at Ministerial level in the International Energy Forum.

The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development held its 15th Session earlier this month. The good news from the Session was yet another consensus expression on the global scene of the importance of energy for sustainable economic and social development and for meeting the Millennium Development Goals. The disappointing news was that member states, despite agreeing on the importance of energy for sustainable development, failed to negotiate consensus agreement on what actually to do about it in more concrete terms.

No final energy blueprint

Not that that outcome should really surprise us all that much. Energy does go to the very core of national and global interests in our increasingly interdependent world. It is crucial for economic and social development in individual countries. Energy affects commercial and political relations between countries. It fuels the world economy and impacts the environment. Energy influences international politics and international politics influence energy developments. There is no quick fix or final blueprint for energy security 'in a Changing World'. Whether global, multilateral energy decision-making takes place or not, decisions on a national basis will be made. And energy decisions of one country impact also important interests of others. Discussions will and must continue in myriad energy and other organizations, regional and global. I am happy that also UNESCO is bringing its particular expertise to the global dialogue on energy. In fact, energy ministers are increasingly joined also by other ministers as national policies will evolve in changing circumstances and find expression in more holistic bilateral, regional and wider international approaches. Dialogue of Ministers within and among countries and groups of countries as well as among international organizations acquires increasing importance. To synchronize thinking, to identify win-win co-operative approaches and not least to avoid misunderstandings.

A time of uncertainties

Our time of heightened energy consciousness is also a time of uncertainties that are prompting some countries and groups of countries to re-think fundamental policies. And the policy tuning of one country to meet new challenges, or to reduce its particular energy uncertainties, can in itself exacerbate uncertainties, or create new ones, for others. Not least considering the interrelationship between energy, environment and economic development. As well as the links between energy and geopolitics. Producer-consumer dialogue acquires increasing importance as nations, and groups of nations, revisit and modify established policies, and shape new ones, addressing their uncertainties in their quest for energy security in a globalizing world of increasing interdependencies. Amid the uncertainties, there is a fundamental certainty. The world will need more and cleaner energy, used in a more efficient way, accessible and affordable to a larger share of its population. The economic challenge lies in mobilizing the substantial investments needed to secure future energy supply. The political challenge lies in operationalizing this energy imperative in a fair and sustainable way. Through national policies as well as in bilateral, regional and wider global co-operation.

New Energy Era

International energy relations are evolving against a complex backdrop, which includes:

  • Fossil fuels remaining paramount for quite some time with increasing attention to development of alternatives.
  • Increasing energy demand, efficiency and trade.
  • Increasing competition for energy resources and increasing competition among energy resources.
  • Resource nationalism. Nations wanting to make the most of their endowment for the benefit of their people.
  • New avenues of co-operation between International and National Oil Companies.
  • Countries adopting policies of energy interdependence or energy independence for energy security.
  • Increasing environmental concern, not least with regard to climate change.
  • Vulnerability of energy production and supply to politically motivated disruption, terrorist onslaught, technical mishap and forces of nature.
  • Call for good governance and transparency. People expect their Governments to provide sufficient, reliable and affordable energy.
  • Energy poverty. Demands for equitable access to energy for the quarter of the world's population who do not have it today, but who want it for a better life tomorrow.
  • The shift to Asia of global economic gravity with geopolitical and energy implications.
  • And, I hope, increasing global awareness of long-term common interests and convergence of holistic policies.

Global Energy Meeting Point

The 15th Session of the UNCSD celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the report of World Commission on Environment and Development - 'Our Common Future', which highlighted among other things the importance of energy. It recommended that new mechanisms for encouraging dialogue between consumers and producers be explored. The informal dialogue among Ministers in the International Energy Forum dates back to a proposal by the Chair of the Commission, and Prime Minister of Norway, Dr. Brundtland following up that particular Commission recommendation. The 10th in the ensuing series of International Energy Forum Ministerials was held in Doha, Qatar in April last year. Ministers of the major energy-importing and exporting countries, industrialized as well as developing countries, confirmed energy security as a 'Shared Responsibility'. They underscored security of energy supply for importing countries and security of energy demand for exporting countries are two sides of the energy security coin. Recognizing that the world will continue to rely strongly on ample supplies of fossil fuels in the decades ahead, IEF Energy Ministers underline the need to accelerate the development of cleaner fossil fuel technologies, such as carbon storage and capture, along with the need to accelerate the development of alternative sources of energy, to increase energy efficiency and to step up investments in the energy sector. Less volatility in energy markets and prices at reasonable levels for producers and consumers are shared objectives. And important for the interrelationship between energy, environment and economic development. Ministers underline the importance of strengthening dialogue and co-operation not only between governments, but also between governments and industry with a view ensuring reliability, security and affordability of energy. Ministers underscore that improved access to markets, resources, technology and financial services, bolstered by fair and transparent economic fiscal and legal regulatory frameworks, and by good governance, is crucial for the long-term energy security of both consumers and producers. They have noted the need to do something about the shortage of skilled human resources throughout the industry. The global dialogue on energy in the IEF is unique in that it transcends traditional political, economic and energy policy dividing lines. It gathers under one global umbrella Ministers not only of the petroleum exporting countries of OPEC as well as Ministers of the industrialized, energy importing countries in the IEA. It also gathers Ministers of countries outside these organisations, such as Russia, China India, Brazil, South Africa and many others that will have increasing impact on the global scenario. The G8 Heads of Government underscored at their annual Summit last year under the Presidency of the Russian Federation, and at the very top of their St. Petersburg Plan of Action on Global Energy Security, the importance of the global energy dialogue at the level of Ministers in the IEF and the importance of the Joint Oil Data Initiative, a unique inter-organizational transparency initiative that the IEF Secretariat is co-ordinating with the support of the UN, APEC, EU, IEA, OLADE and OPEC. The political level dialogue in the International Energy Forum benefits from the participation and the strong support of the Russian Federation and that of our Conference Host Minister Khristenko personally. I am looking forward to continued interaction also with a new co-operative partner, UNESCO, recognizing the unique global scientific perspective that you may want to apply to energy. For we are all - nations, organizations and not to forget the energy industry itself - part of an evolving and widening Global Energy Policy Interrelationship. With a shared objective of wanting to contribute to the forging a global consensus on what action must be taken individually and in concert for a sustainable interrelationship between energy, environment and economic development. Discussions today and tomorrow at this Ministerial Conference on 'Energy in a Changing World' will give valuable input, not least to our preparations for the next global meeting of energy ministers in IEF that will take place in Rome in April next year.