Climate policy and energy security: Two sides of the same coin?

December 15, 2008 | 00:00

Climate policy and energy security: Two sides of the same coin?

“We must treat energy security and climate security as two sides of the same coin”, this was said by Tony Blair on the 20th of november 2006, when he visisted the United States. The claim that policies may be able to address climate change and energy security at the same time is plausible. On one side of the coin, climate policy is aimed at limiting or reducing human impacts on climate. On the other side of the coin, energy security is often identified with the goal of reducing macroeconomic vulnerability to disruptions in energy supplies and accompanying price increases.

In general, reducing dependence on imported fuels can enhance energy security. Greater use of alternative, or renewable, energy sources is one way to achieve this. If reduced fossil fuel use lowers CO2 emissions then “climate security” would also benefit. In that sense, policies that could achieve both goals are “two sides of the same coin.”

However, as is argued in this paper, restricting use of some fossil fuels, particularly in the U.S., could compromise energy security, especially in the short run. Furthermore, restricting use of these fossil fuels may not be an efficient response to the threat of climate change even if it had no negative consequences for energy security.

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