IAEA Chief Calls for Global Framework on Energy Security

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei confers with President Hu Jintao of China during the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Photo: V. Cserveny/IAEA)

With energy needs rising especially in poor countries, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has proposed developing a new global pact and an associated global energy body to address the challenge of global energy security. Dr. ElBaradei made the proposal during the summit meeting of the Group of 8 (G8) leading industrialized countries on 17 July, 2006 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Global energy security means fulfilling the energy needs of all countries, Dr. ElBaradei said. At the summit, the G8 adopted an Action Plan identifying seven areas for enhancing global energy security, ranging from increasing stability of global markets to addressing climate change and sustainable development. The G8 leaders agreed that dynamic and sustainable development of our civilization depends on reliable access to energy. G8 countries include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and the United States.

The key issue, he said, is how can these be implemented, i.e., to move from the expression of laudable intentions to real action. Dr. ElBaradei stressed the need for a comprehensive approach, which would:

  • balance demand with energy supplies and associated technologies;
  • create global approach of energy supply and distribution that would be equitable and grant universal access to affordable energy and transparent and functioning markets that serve both producers and consumers; as well as protect the environment; and
  • include a system or framework to achieve all these and ensure every country´s basic needs are met.

Dr. ElBaradei believes such a framework, consisting of a global energy pact and associated international energy body would be able to address the seven key areas identified in the G8 plan of Action. Additionally, it would be able to address specific issues, including:

  • How much energy and in what form is needed globally, particularly in developing countries;
  • How best to address the need for robust comparative energy assessment leading to detailed concrete practical recommendations (energy mix, infrastructure) on a national and regional basis;
  • How to assist developing countries in building the internal capability (and capacity) to take energy matters in their own hands and how can the energy needs in developing countries be financed;
  • How best to ensure transparent, open and functioning competitive markets to address the needs of both producers and consumers; and
  • What R&D needs to be coordinated globally in addition to that undertaken by the private sector?

"There is no development without energy," the Director General said, "and without energy there is poverty, resentment and frustration - a fertile breeding ground for violence and extremism." He pointed out that 1.6 billion people still have no access to electricity and the grossly unequal access to energy between OECD countries (8,500 kWh per capita per year) on one extreme and Nigeria (148 kWh per capita per year) on the other end.

"Nuclear power is going through a rennaisance driven by energy demand, a quest for energy security, concern about climate change, and a sustained safety record over the past 20 years," Dr. ElBaradei said. "However, if nuclear power is to play a role as part of an energy mix, a new framework is needed to address multilateral approaches to the fuel cycle, assurance of supply and a better system to protect nuclear facilities and material".

The bottom line, Dr. ElBaradei said, is that "energy security no longer makes sense as a concept to be addressed in national terms".

Energy issues around the world today are dealt with in a fragmented manner, both in terms of geographical coverage and resources. For example, OPEC is limited to oil and in its membership; the European Energy Charter caters to Europe and some observers; UNESCO focuses on solar energy, and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) assists developing countries in renewables and energy efficiency.

Global structures charged with global oversight and monitoring exist in many key areas, among those: the World Health Organization (WHO) for health; the World Trade Organization (WTO) for trade; International Marine Organization (IMO) for marine transport; and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for agriculture. So why not in the energy area, the Director General asked.

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Also at the G8, Dr. ElBaradei expressed his support for the new U.S./ Russian "Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism". Dr. ElBaradei hopes that this new global effort will complement ongoing efforts to better protect nuclear material and facilities by helping countries to implement nuclear security measures called for under the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and Security Council Resolution 1540.

Dr. ElBaradei urged all countries to join in global efforts to ensure that terrorists have no means to obtain nuclear or radioactive materials, or ways to attack nuclear facilities. He pledged IAEA support in working with Governments under this initiative to expand existing efforts to upgrade nuclear security.

At this year´s summit Dr. ElBaradei, along with a number of heads of States and leaders of other international organizations like the International Energy Agency of the OECD, the United Nations, UNESCO, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and the World Trade Organization were invited to participate in the discussions.

Last update: 11 November 2014