‘The Athens Summit 2008: Global Climate & Energy Security’: Tackling climate and energy security together

Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has faced, primarily because it requires a breadth and depth of global cooperation never before imagined and this must happen in a nanosecond, in the timescale of human evolution

The very forces that are threatening our climate security are also threatening our energy security, our food security and our water security. All these are intimately linked and call for global co-operation and action, before we are called to pay the price of imprudence, namely an estimated 5-20% reduction in global income, while averting the potential misery of unimaginable magnitude that awaits us will cost less than 1% of global income.

The concern for our energy security, and the resource scarcity this inevitably entails, has been brought to centre stage, due to the continuous rise in oil prices and recent stand-offs between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas pipelines. Failure to co-operate, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and jointly manage available resources can only lead to geopolitical rivalries and overall instability.

It is also regrettably accepted that most available alternative options to fossil fuels (biofuels, nuclear power, etc.) are currently not seen as capable of bolstering our energy portfolio, due to their economic ineffectiveness and the associated environmental and security risks. Again, the need for global co-operation and commitment for the development of new and the staking up of existing technologies is of paramount importance. As if the energy crisis was not enough, we are now faced with a food crisis, wherein the price of wheat, rice and other foods is steadily rising over the past few months. A number of factors account for this, energy being foremost among them, as its high prices affect agricultural food. Other climate changes, such as draughts and diminishing drinking water supplies, are aggravating the crisis, increasing poverty and inequity
around the world.

It is quite obvious then that the interdependencies between our energy and climate security and their links to food and water security are quite complex and our concern for them will certainly intensify. We have so far failed to act, due to our lack of will and imagination.

This conference has been designed to highlight the need for intensive global co-operation, by discussing the current situation and our prospects for the future. This is without a doubt a huge challenge to undertake, but at the same time it is one that comes laden with opportunity. The formation of policies and institutions of global governance, needed to combat climate change, will also provide the means to bring security in the realms of energy, food and water in the crowded world of the 21st century. We are building the foundations of global justice. If there ever was a way to make a virtue of necessity, this is it.

Source: The Athens Summit 2008 news