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In opening the forum, E.A. Pamfilova, coordinator of the National Working Group for the Civil G8 project, emphasised the core goal of all activities undertaken within the project: to find a common path towards resolution of the main problems of civil society, regardless of differences in points of view, stressing that this is the main thing that unites Russian NGOs and those of other G8 countries. By opening up a forum for discussion prior to the G8 summit, she said, Russia hopes to strengthen cooperation in three fundamental areas: energy security, health and education.
The roundtable on energy security issues played a leading role in the consultations that took place, as the discussion participants came to the conclusion that resolution of key current energy issues will not be possible without taking into account policy in the areas of health and education. That Russia brought the issue to the forefront of the agenda indicates its deep understanding of the role and place of this issue in world affairs. And the task now is to identify possible trends and threats, as well as collective measures at the level of governments, business and civil structures.
Energy security is not simply a sectoral problem; it is an issue for the global community, and comprises energy, economic and environmental issues. And in discussing it, it is important to differentiate between resource/economic issues and innovation/social aspects. The resource and economic issues are interconnected; one of the greatest threats to energy security today is instability in the global market environment, which could cause oil prices to fluctuate from as low as 13 to as high as 80 dollars per barrel.
The global community cannot today be split into three camps: importers, exporters and third-world countries. It is not confrontation between global groups that will ensure security, but rather cooperation only. A confrontational approach to the environment will not lead to anything useful either. And in this connection it is desirable to identify development trends based on environmentally friendly technologies. Ten years ago the World Council defined the primary areas of focus in the search for optimal solutions as the '3 A's': resource Adequacy; economic Accessibility, and environmental Acceptability.
It is particularly necessary to move towards a global gas market. A means must be found to sell Russian gas on South American markets, which could then move away impure coal and low-grade oil, instead relying on natural gas from Russia. This applies not only to the South American markets, but also to Japan and other regions.
Efforts cannot be relaxed in the search for renewable energy sources. This currently consists primarily of hydroelectric stations, which account for 16% of total energy production (33% comes from coal and oil and 25% from gas). However, the share provided by hydroelectric power is set to decrease, and the role of non-traditional renewable energy to grow. Wind turbines are currently expensive, but many countries are continuing to intensively develop wind energy. One place in Europe where this sphere of energy production could be effectively developed is the Kola Peninsula. A 50-watt wind farm built there could produce up to 4400 megawatts of electric power per year.
One of the most important problems in energy provision is accessibility the opportunity to receive energy for prices that are reasonable considering the standard of living. Two billion of the world's population still do not have access to electricity, and a fifth have to live on two dollars a day or less. Sufficient resources are available, but countries without sufficient energy resources must be able to buy them. All the while demand for energy is growing and, according to International Atomic Energy Agency data, will increase in the near future by around 50%, with most of this growth coming from the Asia-Pacific region. Therefore it is highly important that cheaper energy sources be opened up. The accessibility issue also gives rise to the problem of distribution of classical resources, specifically oil and gas.
The structure of global energy is undergoing its third 'perestroika'. At the beginning of the last century wood was replaced by coal. Coal was then replaced by oil. Now the replacement of oil is being discussed. But the resources that will follow are not yet ready. The problem wit oil and gas is not, as such, one of lack of resources. It is, rather, one of slowed economic growth, which complicates the development of renewable energy. It is also an issue of the transportation costs characteristic of the oil and hydrocarbon markets. But this is not the main issue. Energy resources cannot continue to be administered in such a profligate and inhumane manner as we have become used to over the entire 20th century. A new evolutionary phase has begun: unrestrained, uncontrolled and haphazard demand for energy will lead to an energy-wasting way of life. There are more important values than the price of petrol. In the modern world, the efforts of governments and the pragmatism of businesses are insufficient for civilised movement forward. Mankind must discover a new development paradigm.
The essence of our project is the democratisation of energy. This is the main instrument for transferring to a sustainable form of development. The goal of this megaproject is to move from a technocratic and closed system to a democratic and open energy policy. In order to do this we will have to realise many ethical projects on a global level, such as the project of rationalisation of energy demand and energy efficiency.
Another important issue is an integrated policy. Specifically, with regard to the integrational activities of Russia, where the world's main reserves of fossil fuels are concentrated, much will depend on the ability of the global and Russian energy industries to move into a new channel of effective and secure development. It is predicted that in the next 10 years Russian gas will become a powerful factor in stabilisation of the global energy market, and this period will be marked by formation of a unified Eurasian and Pacific system of oil, gas and electricity supply, in which Russia and the European Union should play a leading role.
There is massive imbalance in the world in use of energy, and G8 representatives must develop new political recommendations aimed at eliminating possible points of confrontation with regard to oil and gas. The issue of stimulating energy efficiency is extremely important given the Kyoto Protocol. And Russia can play an invaluable role in this process.
Besides this, openness and transparency are required in the power industry. And expert organisations must play a role in this. Correct information and correct appraisals must come from a qualified expert association. Instruments must be established for prompt conveyance of expert information and requests from civil society to those who make the decisions. Mechanisms must also be established to provide openness of large-scale energy projects. One problem is that traditional companies have sufficient power and wherewithal to suppress information on the socioeconomic consequences of their projects. The task of civil society is to facilitate resolution of this problem.
And, finally, we should consider the close connection of the problem of energy security to the problems of education and health. It is useless to talk of the problems of energy saving and energy efficiency without simultaneously taking effective measures in the fields of developing civic consciousness and protecting people's health.
The next nation to take the baton after Russia will be Germany, and the government of Germany could be invited to speak in support of participation of civil society in subsequent dialogue with the G8 leadership.
Source: Civil G8
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