Europe's energy security after Copenhagen: Time for a retrofit?

December 15, 2009 | 00:00

Europe's energy security after Copenhagen: Time for a retrofit?

Whether or not the international community reaches a comprehensive climate agreement at Copenhagen in December 2009, the EU member states are among those countries set to adopt policies to mitigate the threat of climate change – as documented by the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – by progressively reducing their CO2 emissions. In its ‘20-20-20’ Climate-Energy legislative package the EU is committed to transforming its energy system to achieve a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (30% in the case of international agreement), 20% share of renewable energy in total energy consumption (and 10% in transportation) and a 20% increase in energy efficiency, all by 2020. This amounts to an overhaul of existing energy systems across the region and brings with it fresh challenges for energy security policy-makers.

Article Summary:

  • Traditional energy security has been about protecting 'adequate supplies of energy at affordable prices', i.e. 'business as usual', but these trends threaten climate security over the long term.
  • The European Union is committed to make drastic reductions in its greenhouse gas emissions by transforming the way it uses and supplies energy.
  • Policies to deal with disruptions will remain essential, but energy security policy needs to be adapted to address the risks of transforming the energy system.
  • Such a policy will need to show flexibility to respond to changing options; to support competition between new technologies; to manage the funds generated by carbon taxes and auctions of emissions permits; and to integrate the EU's moves with international developments.

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