IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change

11.8.3 Impacts of GHG mitigation on energy security

Since the TAR, new literature has addressed the question of energy security and climate change, especially following the rapid increases and fluctuations in commodity prices, particularly oil, in the period 2004-2006. The concept of energy security is usually understood to be an issue of the reliability of energy supplies that is illustrated by the exposure of oil im-porters to world market prices (Bauen, 2006) and, as Sullivan and Blyth (2006) point out, the reliability of electricity systems given the growing penetration of intermittant renewables, which may require back-up generation capacity (but see UKERC, 2006).

The possibilities of synergies and trade-offs between mitigation actions and energy security are very specific to national circumstances, particularly the relevant fuel mixes as a result of evolving energy markets, the sectors being targeted and energy consumption trends (Turton and Barreto, 2006). The transportation sector, in particular, is characterized by strong synergies relating to energy supply: measures replacing oil with domestic biofuels reduce both emissions and reliance on oil imports. Mitigation action for the electricity sector may lead to synergies with energy security. For example, a more decentralized system based on new renewable generation may reduce gas imports. Alternatively, there may be trade-offs. For example, security reasons may lead countries to increase their dependence on internal reserves of coal rather than relying on natural gas imports (Kuik, 2003).

Whether in the form of synergies or trade-offs, there is a growing recognition of the critical linkages that exist between climate change and energy security, and the fact that energy prices still have yet to reflect these ‘externalities’ effectively (Bauen, 2006). The inability to manage either one of these threats could result in significant economic and social costs (Turton and Barreto, 2006). Measures that successfully address both issues therefore have the potential to provide signficant social and economic benefits. In conclusion, it seems likely that climate change and energy security pressures will become more acute as international development proceeds. Public policies to address either of these issues can take many forms and their combination makes the effects uncertain, implying a gap in understanding their synergies and trade-offs (Blyth and Lefevre, 2004).