The national science academies of the G8 nations, China, India, Brazil and South Africa have issued a joint statement calling on world leaders—and especially those in the G8—not to let tackling climate change fall by the wayside as their countries grapple with energy security.
The call comes prior to the G8 discussions on energy security in St. Petersburg next month, and echoes a similar joint statement by the academies on the urgency of addressing climate change made last year prior to the G8 summit in Gleneagles.
The academies' statement identifies a series of very serious difficulties related to the security and sustainability of the world’s energy including climate change, sharply rising and fluctuating oil and gas prices, providing fuels to the developing world, inefficient and wasteful use of energy and a geographical mismatch between energy sources and users. These issues could have important economic, social and environmental ramifications if they are not addressed.
Russia has highlighted energy security as a key issue for its presidency of the G8 and it is vital that this is considered in the broader context of the global threat of climate change as well as other environmental, social and economic concerns.
One year on from the UK Gleneagles Summit, where the G8 committed to taking action on climate change, this crucial issue must not be allowed to fall by the wayside. The G8 must demonstrate that this was a serious pledge by integrating climate concerns with their discussions regarding security of supply.
Dealing with energy security should not merely be seen as an opportunity, for example, to open up new markets for fossil fuels. The G8 has an opportunity to deal with the fundamental issue of how we power our increasingly energy hungry economies, in the developed and developing worlds, while addressing the threat of climate change.
Indeed as some of the most intensive users of energy in the world, the G8 nations bear a special responsibility to help stimulate the clean energy revolution that will deliver economically, environmentally and socially while ensuring the lights stay on.—Martin Rees, President of the UK Royal Society
The joint statement highlights that achieving an acceptable level of energy security and sustainability will require a sustained focus by governments and international cooperation to identify and implement strategic energy policy priorities.
Specifically, the statement calls on world leaders to:
Articulate the reality and urgency of global energy security concerns;
Plan for the massive infrastructure investments, and lead times required for a transition to clean, affordable and sustainable energy systems;
Intensify cooperation with developing countries to build their domestic capacities to use existing and innovative energy systems and technologies, including transfer of technologies;
Promote by appropriate policies and economic instruments the development and implementation of cost-competitive, environmentally beneficial, and market acceptable clean fossil, nuclear, and renewable technologies;
Ensure, in cooperation with industry, that technologies are developed and implemented and actions taken to protect energy infrastructures from natural disasters, technological failures, and human actions;
Address the serious inadequacy of R&D funding and provide incentives to accelerate advanced energy-related R&D, also in partnership with private companies;
Implement education programs to increase public understanding of energy challenges, and to provide for energy-related expertise and engineering capabilities; and
Focus governmental research and technology efforts on energy efficiency, non-conventional hydrocarbons and clean coal with CO2 sequestration, innovative nuclear power, distributed power systems, renewable energy sources, biomass production, biomass and gas conversion for fuels.
The science academies have also jointly published a sister statement on avian influenza and infectious diseases today.