Climate change and Energy have rapidly become central issues in foreign and security policy. Coupled with other factors such as demographic growth and resource scarcity they contribute to international conflicts and are expected to do so even more in the future. Climate-induced floods, droughts, desertification and farmland destruction have triggered migration and conflict from Darfur to Mali and Cameroon to Bangladesh. By 2025, climate change is expected to slash harvests and water supplies, affecting some 1.4 billion people.
Today, we live in times of significant oil over-supply. While the current drop in oil prices is a boon for consumers and energy importers, it threatens the sustainability of many energy producing countries. By 2035, however, energy consumption is expected to rise by over 40% compared to 2012, with 95% coming from emerging economies. Energy security and climate change will thus remain a global challenge for years to come.
Climate change, coupled with demographic growth, will require innovative agricultural solutions: agricultural output will have to increase by 70% in order to feed the planet in 2050. Rising temperatures are also accelerating the melting of glaciers. This could have devastating consequences for coastal regions which are inhabited by 60% of the global population. The thawing of the glaciers will simultaneously bring access to new energy, mineral and fishing resources. New energy discoveries and technologies can both help address scarcities and bolster efforts to mitigate climate change.
In climate policy, the EU emissions trading scheme has become a cornerstone in the effort to combat climate change and reduce industrial greenhouse gasses, and the EU is committed to achieving a binding agreement at COP21 and bilateral cooperation on resource-efficient and green growth. In energy policy, the Energy Security Strategy and the Energy Union Communication chart the way ahead. To enhance energy security, much of the answer lies within the EU. But the internal-external nexus in the energy security puzzle is critical, too. Unlike in climate policy, in external energy policy the EU is too often unable to speak and act with one voice, facilitating divide-and-rule efforts by some supplier countries.
The EU's most pressing challenges in the energy domain are likely that of coordination and cohesion. Insufficient EU representation in international energy bodies, insufficient Member State coordination of their external energy policies, and insufficient Member State buy-in to the EU’s external energy partnerships hamper efforts to achieve energy security. The effects can be seen in the difficulties encountered in building an integrated energy market in the neighbourhood and in completing the Southern Gas Corridor.
There is thus an imperative to diversify energy sources and routes through partnerships with suppliers and transit states. In the last five years the EU has been moving towards building an Energy Union to tackle fragmented energy markets through more effective coordination of energy policies and new investments in critical infrastructure. Efforts to build an Energy Union will help rebalance relations with Russia, the Caucasus and the Middle East.