UNUnited Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Press Release

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GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION NOW COULD ALTER WORLD’S UNSUSTAINABLE ENERGY PATH

Geneva, 12 December 2006 -- The world is currently on an unsustainable energy path, but prompt government intervention could alter this. This is the message delivered to delegates during UNECE’s high-level discussions on global energy security at the annual session of the Committee on Sustainable Energy, 28-30 November.

Marek Belka, Executive Secretary of the UNECE, opened the proceedings highlighting that global energy security has without question returned to the top of the economic agenda. During the keynote presentations the views of Claude Mandil, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Andrey Reus, Deputy Minister for Industry and Energy of the Russian Federation and Stanislav Tsygankov , Director of the International Business Department of JSC “Gazprom”, were heard.

Claude Mandil drew attention to the key energy-related challenges facing the world; the lack of adequate and secure supplies of energy at affordable prices and the environmental damage resulting from the current and growing energy consumption levels. He then stressed the need for government policy action or intervention in a number of key areas, including promoting investment to boost capacity; improving energy efficiency; increasing reliance on non-fossil fuels; ensuring adequate energy diversity; improving data transparency and sustaining the domestic supply of oil and gas within net energy importing countries. The IEA was created 32 years ago to address energy security issues after the first oil shock and the issue remains a key concern for its 26 member countries in their efforts to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for their citizens. The IEA is also the author of the annual World Energy Outlook, a publication read with considerable interest by governments and the international energy community alike.

In hearing from Andrey Reus, it was clear that the energy policy of the Russian Federation not only has a determining impact on the energy situation and energy environment within the Russian Federation, but also has an impact on the energy trading partners of the Russian Federation, i.e. most UNECE member countries. The policies and practices of the Russian Federation can materially affect the energy options available to other UNECE countries since it is a country endowed with very significant reserves and resources of fossil fuels – petroleum, natural gas and coal.

A consumer-producer dialogue is an essential component of the global energy security debate. Gazprom is a key player in this dialogue since it is the largest producer of natural gas in the world and a major exporter of natural gas to eastern, central and western Europe. Stanislav Tsygankov clearly delivered the views of an energy producer, particularly in terms of identifying the critical need for certainty when making investment decisions and for transportation infrastructure to be separated from production and marketing operations i.e. ownership unbundling. Understanding the commercial policy of a company such as Gazprom is essential for anyone interested in the energy security of the UNECE region.

The meeting, which was attended by over 230 delegates from some 37 UNECE member States, then involved a series of thematic sessions focussing on the following key areas of the UNECE energy work programme and how they each facilitate sustainable energy development and hence increased energy security:

  • Emerging Energy Security Risks and Risk Mitigation;
  • Investment and Regulation in the Electric Power Sector;
  • Energy Efficiency, Import Dependence and Climate Change;
  • Global Harmonization of Energy Reserves and Resources Terminology: The Key to Maximizing Energy Reserves;
  • Mitigating Environmental and Social Consequences of Coal Use; and
  • Natural Gas: Transition Fuel to Cleaner Energy Consumption Patterns.

For further information on the meeting or the work of the UNECE Committee on Sustainable Energy, please contact Charlotte Griffiths (charlotte.griffiths@unece.org) and/or visit http://www.unece.org/ie/

Ms. Charlotte Griffiths
UNECE Sustainable Energy Division
Palais des Nations, Bureau 374
CH - 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Phone: +41(0) 22 917 1988
Telefax: +41(0) 22 917 0038
E-mail: charlotte.griffiths@unece.org

Ref: ECE/SED/06/P04