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Human Security and Energy Security: A Sustainable Energy System as a Public Good

Authors:
Chapter 23. Human Security and Energy Security: A
Sustainable Energy System as a Public Good
1
Sylvia I. Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen and Nigel Jollands
INTRODUCTION
This chapter is dedicated to the concept of human security, its link to energy and energy
governance, particularly global energy governance and through this focus emerges the need to
look at the links between the concept of public goods and energy. Our starting argument is
that conventional notions of energy security that are centred on the nation state are
insufficient to ensure human security at an individual level (across the globe). Rather, what
we refer to as ‘deep energy security’ is a necessary condition for human security and such
security in turn requires a sustainable energy system. We further argue that one approach to
strengthen deep energy security is to use the lens of the public goods concept to consider how
aspects of a sustainable energy system should be provided
The chapter is structured as follows. We start by exploring the evolution of the
concept of human security and its major components and then analyse the various ways
through which energy is linked to this concept. We look at the links between energy and
human well-being and security and between energy and human ill-being and insecurity. We
then explore the contrast between the concept of human security and the conventional way in
which energy security has been framed, contrasting the individual with the collective
perspective. We then argue that conventional energy security is not sufficient to deliver
human security and propose the notion of deep energy security as a more comprehensive and
1
This is a pre-publication version of a book chapter with the following reference: Karlsson -Vinkhuyzen, Sylvia, and Nigel Jollands.
2013. Human Security and Energy Security: A Sustainable Energy System as a Public Good. In International Handbook of Energy
Security, edited by Hugh Dyer and Maria Julia Trombetta, 507-525. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar
appropriate concept. This concept is closely linked to the sustainability of energy systems,
particularly the global energy system. In the following section we turn our attention to how
deep energy security could be provided, with a first step in approaching the sustainability of
energy systems as public goods at all levels, particularly the global level. This requires an
elaboration of the definition and theory of public goods and how they need to be provided.
Acknowledging the need for a multilevel and multilayered provision approach for this public
good we examine in more detail what and how much of this good should be provided through
global energy governance and then we briefly explore the current practice of global energy
governance before drawing some conclusions
ENERGY AND HUMAN SECURITY: FROM NATIONAL AND COLLECTIVE TO
INDIVIDUAL AND GLOBAL
As we move into the 21st century, there is little doubt that humanity faces daunting energy-
related challenges. Access to affordable energy sources is increasingly challenging for
countries a situation that is likely to become worse as fossil fuels prices inevitably increase
further. In addition, 23 billion people lacking access to modern energy services (AGECC,
2010) and fossil fuels accounting for 60 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions causing climate
change.1 The need for a transition to sustainable energy production and consumption patterns,
not only within national contexts but also across the whole globe, is increasingly
acknowledged by a broad spectrum of commentators and decision makers (AGECC, 2010;
Bradbrook and Wahnschafft, 2005; ElBaradei, 2008; Jäger and Cornell, 2011; Nilsson et al.,
2012; Olaniyi, Chapter 4 this volume; Peters and Westphal, Chapter 5 this volume). Yet
progress is slow. One of the reasons for this, we argue, is the entrapment of energy
policymaking within the paradigm of national security. Energy security is considered vital for
national security and policies are largely made within that framework even if many countries
are paying increasing attention to other concerns (including transnational ones) such as air
pollution, climate change and energy poverty and thus various dimensions of sustainability.
One implication of this national security paradigm is not only that insufficient attention is
given to consequences of energy policies for other countries, their citizens, and the global
environment, but also that the potential for cross-border collaboration on energy issues is not
realised. Energy choices are focused on affordable energy for the national economy and
military needs. Energy security is considered as a national public good with its provision set
as a priority for government provision. Collaboration with other countries does not come
easily within this paradigm and many win-win opportunities in energy investments,
technology cooperation and governance are foregone.
An alternative security paradigm for energy policy is human security. This concept
was introduced in 1994 in the UNDP Human Development Report in an effort to make human
development challenges more immediate policy concerns. The UNDP identified six types of
security beyond security from physical violence: income security, food security, health
security, environmental security, personal security, community security and political security
(UNDP, 1994). This effort, followed by considerable academic and policy attention
particularly at the global level, changes the focus on the object that should be protected and
that should be secure from states and their sovereignty and territorial integrity to individual
human beings and their survival, human development, identity and governance (Liotta, 2002).
Human security is not only about the physical safety of persons (freedom from fear) but also
about their ability to obtain and hold basic goods (freedom from want) (Gasper, 2005). This
shift brings a change in attention towards those that are most vulnerable (Owen, 2008). The
concept of human security was particularly elaborated by the Ogata-Sen Commission in their
report Human Security Now that defined it as ‘to protect the vital core of all human lives in
ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfilment’ (Commission on Human Security,
2003:4).
Gasper (2005) outlines how the human security concept serves as the container for a
discourse and an ‘intellectual boundary object’ that merges concerns from three other
discourses; basic human needs, human development and human rights. The roots in human
rights brings ‘the unwillingness to sacrifice anyone’ and the basic human needs discourse a
‘stress on prioritization’ (Gasper, 2005:234). Furthermore, human rights tend to highlight not
only the rights but the duties of (someone) to ensure those rights and thus a discussion on
duties and accountability (Gasper, 2005). The security concept attempts to connect with the
national security world where funding and organisational power are at higher levels and
indirectly connects to the accountability structure of the UN System and its work on
monitoring of humanitarian crises, Millennium Development Goals etc. (Gasper, 2005). The
shift from national to human security means that the issue of who can or should provide
security for whom changes. Some consider that states should still have the major
responsibility to ensure human security but a human security focus raises the concern from
being limited to citizens within a particular state to citizens of all states, to global citizens.
Can states adopt such a global perspective in their policy-making? We return to this below.2
Energy was not mentioned either in the UNDP report of 1994 (UNDP, 1994) or in the
Ogata-Sen Commission report (Commission on Human Security, 2003).3 It is also quite
invisible in the academic literature on human security. Nonetheless, the contribution of energy
to human security can be explicitly linked to at least four of the six security dimensions that
were in the original UNDP definition of human security (UNDP, 1994); economic security,
food security, health security, environmental security. Even for the last three categories
personal, community and political security one can identify links to aspects of energy
production or consumption. The links between energy and the various dimensions of human
security can be divided into two major categories; the links between energy
access/consumption and human well- being/security and between certain types of energy
production and consumption and human ‘ill-being’/insecurity. The following sections explore
these two categories of links in more detail.
Energy, Human Well-Being and Security
Whenever anything happens, anywhere, anytime, it is because energy is transferred from one
form to another. Not surprisingly, the ability to harness energy for human use has been a vital
element of human security for millennia. From learning to use fire for food preparation,
heating and protection, to the development of technologies to capture the energy of wind,
animals, etc. energy has been used by humans to transform individual and societal life (Smil,
1994). This transformation has often meant increasing individual well-being and security.
This development has progressed through the industrial revolution that was very much
enabled by the ability to use cheap fossil fuels. All modern technologies that make life easier,
healthier and more secure require access to modern energy; from fridges for vaccines to
kitchen appliances and cars. While it should be acknowledged that the production and use of
energy also has its costs (see discussion below), it is clear that modern energy has had a
significant positive impact on many aspects of human well-being and security.
This development of increased well-being and human security has, however, in a
global context been very unequal both between and particularly within countries. For
example, around 2.7 billion people lack access to modern energy services for cooking and
heating and around 1.94 million people in developing countries die each year from respiratory
infections as a result of exposure to pollution from solid fuels, see Bhattacharyya (Chapter 19,
this volume). The unequal energy use situation is most vividly illustrated by the picture of the
Earth at night. Many regions such as urban centres in North America and Europe are bathed in
light while others, such as much of Africa, are almost entirely dark.
The links between access to modern energy and human well-being and security are
clear and convincing. However, as energy has been so absent in the literature on human
security it is also relevant to briefly describe the links to the specific dimensions of security
dimensions in more detail (the links particularly to economic and health security are discussed
in more detail in Chapter 19 of this volume).
Economic security relates to the ability to make livelihoods on a sustainable basis. On
a macro scale this is a major reason for governments to pursue secure energy supplies
to ensure economic development and indeed national security. Economic development
means income security for a larger portion of the population. On a micro scale when
the focus is poverty reduction there is clear evidence that access to modern energy
services improves livelihoods of the poor in developing countries. Access to cleaner
energy options (than traditional fuels for example) can improve working conditions
and can provide new job opportunities in sustainable energy sectors (GEA, 2012).
Food security at the household level can also be linked to access to modern energy
services. Most staple foods need to be cooked before consumption thus access to heat
energy is essential. Liberating the time (and indeed human energy) that women spend
collecting fire wood, pump water and mill grains by hand through access to energy
services would give more time for work on the productivity of their land (or on other
income-generating activities) (GEA, 2012). Modern and affordable energy used for
irrigation directly strengthens the food security of the poor (GEA, 2012). Another area
where access to modern energy services is linked to improving food security is the
reduction of post-harvest losses due to inadequate facilities for harvest, storage and
transport (GEA, 2012). Furthermore, on a global scale intensive large scale agriculture
increases the availability of food for international trade and this type of agriculture is
highly dependent on energy in fertiliser production, irrigation, harvesting and transport
(GEA, 2012).
Health security is linked to energy access in several ways. The most prominent link is
between the particulates from the combustion of poorly-quality cooking fuels and
respiratory disorders. The illness and death of millions of primarily women and
children every year are directly related to their exposure to the smoke from cooking
fuels, see Bhattacharyya (Chapter 19, this volume). There is however also a very
strong link between energy and health security in the running of modern health care
facilities that require access to electricity and affordable fuels (GEA, 2012).4
Energy, Ill-Being and Insecurity
The ability to harness an expanding list of energy types through technological innovations is a
twin-edged sword. On the one hand it has delivered huge benefits. On the other hand, it has a
led to significant insecurity and ill-being for many human beings and indeed states.
Environmental security comes when human beings have a healthy physical
environment. Modern energy production and consumption links human insecurity
through environmental degradation and climate change that affects economic, food,
health or even personal, community and political security of people. These links can
either be manifested in insecurity emerging slowly over time or come as a result of
sudden disasters and they can occur within or across state borders. The extraction,
production and use of many modern forms of energy degrades or even destroys such
environments locally or globally. The mining of coal or drilling of oil can create health
hazards for workers involved in the process or the population living close by (consider
for example oil extraction in the Niger Delta). The use of nuclear power for generating
energy can cause disasters with major implications for human security (e.g. Chernobyl
and Fukushima). The burning of fossil fuels is a major source of local and regional air
pollution with associated health implications in cities around the world.5 The burning
of fossil fuels is also, as mentioned above, the major source of greenhouse gases
causing climate change accounting for around 60 per cent of total global greenhouse
emissions.6 Climate change in turn has a number of implications for human
(in)security some of which are related to health such as changed patterns of infectious
diseases, others linked to food security (from changed weather patterns and
agricultural potential) or physical safety such as extreme weather events (storms,
floods and over longer time horizons sea-level rise) which will contribute to migration
and associated income insecurity.7
Personal security is defined as people’s security from physical violence (UNDP,
1994). The most obvious contribution of energy to insecurity in this sense is the
enabling of ever more powerful technologies of war including nuclear weapons.
Furthermore, after the nationalisation of many countries’ fossil fuel reserves in the
1970s some countries in the west started to look at disruptions of energy supply as a
national security issue that should be counteracted by military strategy (Peters, 2004).
This has obvious implications for human security in relation to physical violence.
Energy sources are generally seen as a cause of conflict in international relations
(Peters and Westphal, Chapter 5, this volume).8 Podobnik (2002) argues that the
unequal distribution of energy consumption is a risk for future conflicts, and the
increasing scarcity of particularly oil may exacerbate this. The scramble for new oil
extraction areas for example in the Arctic could be seen as an indication of this.
Another contribution of energy to insecurity is through the so called ‘resource curse’.
This concept implies that countries with considerable natural resource assets (such as
oil), are more prone to internal conflict thus linked to both personal and political
security, see for example de Soysa (2002) and Chapter 5 of the GEA (2012).
Community security comes from the fact that ‘[m]ost people derive security from their
membership in a group a family, a community, an organisation, a racial or ethnic
group that can provide a cultural identity and a reassuring set of values’ (UNDP,
1994:31). Any impact on communities’ ability to indeed live as a community is thus a
cause of human insecurity. Among such impacts related to energy production are
displacements of whole communities for the building of hydropower dams or drilling
of oil on land. The expected forced migrations of even whole countries (low lying
islands) from climate changed induced sea-level rise will be a result of consumption of
fossil fuels (and other greenhouse gas emitting activities). On the other hand, one can
argue that in some communities and cultures excessive consumption of energy is a
defining element of their identity, such as communities built on the dependence of car
and airplane transport.
Political security, finally, is about people’s ability to live in countries where their
basic human rights are protected, including their civil and political rights. Here the
link to energy production and consumption is tenuous but de Soysa (2002:30) argues
that the research community ‘needs denser analyses of how resource abundance is
associated with conflict through what some observers characterise as the ‘spoils
politics’ of clientelism, corruption, and extrainstitutional “governance,” a pervasive
feature of politics in resource-abundant countries, particularly in Africa’. On the other
hand, the access to electricity is a pre-requisite for the ability to use cell-phones and
the internet, and the associated social media that may play a role in supporting more
open and democratic societies.
Deep Energy Security and the Sustainability of Energy Systems
Clearly, current notions of energy security are not delivering human security in all its
dimensions. What is needed is a new approach to energy security that captures the notion that
all human beings, including future generations, are entitled to benefit from modern energy
services and at the same time be protected from their negative side- effects. In this context, we
offer the notion of ‘deep energy security’ (DES). Deep energy security is energy security that
contributes to human security over space (from the local to global) and time (that is, now and
for future generations). In this way, deep energy security embraces both a long-term (multi-
generational), equitable perspective and holistic approach to the energy system. There are
clear parallels between the concept of DES and the sustainability of the energy system.
Indeed, we argue in this chapter that DES and the sustainability of the energy system are
intertwined. Furthermore, this interconnection could be considered as a nested dependency
where the sustainability of the energy system is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for
DES, and DES is in turn a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for human security. Despite
their close relation the concepts of a sustainable energy system and deep energy security are
distinct. An energy system with occasional disturbances may still be considered ‘sustainable’
but not deeply energy secure. The DES concept adds a focus on immediate individual well-
being and security while sustainability is a crucial aspect for ensuring DES also for future
generations.
At this point, it is important to point out that we take a broad definition of the energy
system to include (Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen et al., 2012:13):
the physical infrastructure needed to extract, transport, transform and use energy;
the physical impacts on the environment and people of energy extraction, transport,
transformation and use;
the social institutions (such as international agencies, governments and the regulatory
frameworks, markets and civil society groups) designed to support the flow of energy
services; and
the individual actors involved in using energy services”.
Deep energy security goes beyond the concept of ‘comprehensive’ energy security.
Comprehensive security was a concept developed in Japan in the 1970s and 1980s that was
focused still on the security of the state but in a broader sense encompassed both military and
economic security (Gasper, 2005). Deep energy security transcends national boundaries. It is
at once global and individual. That is, it accommodates the moral community as a global one
but maintains the individual (within a community and nation and dependent on the
environment) as the focus of security. An understanding of DES is also useful in that it can
help with priority setting. That is, Gasper (2005:241) states, the ‘human security discourse is a
discourse for getting priority, and priorities, in national and international policy.’ Applying
this line of logic to DES, it is possible that the proposed concept of DES could serve a similar
purpose in the domain of energy policy.
Defining DES is a useful first step in the process of reforming our notion of energy
security. In the next section, we take the notion of DES one step further and ask how can deep
energy security be achieved and who, or what, should provide such DES?
PUBLIC GOODS AND THE SUSTAINABILITY OF THE ENERGY SYSTEM
The section above noted that DES is dependent on sustainability of the energy system. If this
is the case, then how can the sustainability of the energy system be provided? We draw on our
work in Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen et al. (2012) to argue that a key approach to answering this
question is to understand the concepts of private and public goods found in economics
literature and to look at the sustainability of the global energy system as a global public
goods.
Public and Private Goods
In economics, a good (or service) is considered private or public depending on two
dimensions: excludability and rivalry. For a good to be purely ‘public’ there can be no
exclusion of those who refuse to pay for the good or service to enjoy the benefits (non-
excludability). A purely public good also requires no rivalry among the beneficiaries of
the good or service (non-rivalry). In other words ‘if a public good exists … anyone can use it
regardless of who pays for it’ (Daly and Farley, 2004:169).
These concepts deserve attention as they influence opinions as to whether the good
should be considered the domain of the public or private sector actors. This is important
because wrongly assigning a good or service as private or public can lead to under-provision.
And under-provision of an aspect of a sustainable energy system makes DES and thus human
insecurity impossible to attain.
A good or service is excludable if its ‘ownership allows the owner to use it while
simultaneously denying others the privilege’ (Daly and Farley, 2004:73). It is worth noting
that nothing is inherently excludable policies or social institutions are required to make any
good or service excludable (Kaul et al., 2003). For example, governments can decide to
privatise what was previously provided freely by public institutions (such as water supply,
and exclude people from the service through the application of water- use tariffs) or bring into
public ownership what was previously operated privately (such as nationalising oil companies
in Iran in 1951 and India in the 1970s for purported public benefits).
On the other hand, some goods or services are inherently non-excludable as a physical
characteristic. Examples of such non-excludable goods or services include climate regulation,
or the air we breathe. In the absence of an institution or technology being able to enforce
exclusion, these are known as non-excludable goods or services. A good or service is ‘rival in
consumption’ when one person’s use reduces the amount available for everyone else. For
example, my use of North-Sea gas to heat my home reduces the amount available for my
neighbours. Conversely, a non-rival good or service is where its use by one person does not
impact on another's use my reliance on the climate regulation eco-system service to ensure
that my London home is not destroyed by a hurricane does not decrease the amount of climate
regulation available for my neighbours. In the context of energy, some of the renewable
energy sources are virtually non-rival, such as sunlight, and, to a certain extent, wind and
wave energy. It is important to note that ‘rivalness is a physical characteristic of a good or
service and is not affected by human institutions’ (Daly and Farley, 2004:73). Importantly,
non-rivalry should not be confused with abundance. For example, seats at a conference are
rival, in that if one person occupies a seat, another cannot at the same time. However, unless
all seats are filled, there is no competition for use, and they can be regarded as abundant. We
can ration access to a resource to keep the resource abundant, but it is always rival.
The theories around public goods have been centred in the context of local or national
governance, however, the concept is also applicable at a ‘global’ level. The global attribute
lifts the perspective to goods which yield benefits for all countries, people and generations
(Kaul et al., 2003:10). Thus, it is possible to identify what are referred to as global public
goods an important concept in the discussion of addressing many global sustainable energy
system issues (Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen et al., 2012).
PUBLIC GOODS, THE PROVISION OF ENERGY SYSTEM SUSTAINABILITY AND
HUMAN SECURITY
Economic literature is clear that public goods will not be efficiently (in a Pareto sense)
provided by the market (Stieglitz, 2000). In this case, it is argued that there is a clear role for
governments in delivering public goods and services. The benefits flowing from the
sustainability of the energy system (whether local or global) such as reduced rate of depletion
of natural capital or reduced impact on the climate system, can be considered public goods
and in some cases global public goods. This is because it would be difficult to exclude anyone
from those benefits. Furthermore, my enjoyment of such benefits do not reduce (rival)
another’s ability to take advantage of those benefits. This means that we can look at the
sustainability of the energy system at any scale as a public good and particularly at the
sustainability of the global energy system as a global public good. It is important to note that
it is only possible to look at energy (which in its consumption is both rival and excludable) as
a public good by adopting a system perspective. The sustainability of the system (which
includes both environmental, social and economic sustainability dimensions) is analytically
possible to approach as a public good (Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen et al., 2012). This analytical
approach makes it very easy to explain why this public good, and DES that relies on it, is
most effectively provided by public institutions.
Unfortunately, public goods are usually underprovided as a result of the collective
action problem which their publicness generates particularly in the case of global public
goods (Conceição, 2003). This is clearly also the case for a sustainable global energy system.
At lower levels of governance it is increasingly common for governments to take the main
responsibility for the provision of the public good elements of a sustainable energy system.
For example, many local governments are putting in place policies to mitigate the air-quality
impact of particulate emissions from heating-fuel combustion (linked to environmental and
health security), and most national governments are implementing active energy efficiency
and renewable energy policy programmes. There is even increasing collaboration on energy in
mostly regional intergovernmental contexts such as IEA, ASEAN, APEC and the EU. But
these attempts are still too narrowly focused to be able to address the broad sustainability
concerns of the energy system. All together the efforts at local, national and regional levels
stay far short of what it takes to build up a sustainable energy system, particularly globally. In
the global governance context the provision of elements of a sustainable energy system is, of
course, much more challenging where all joint action is based on voluntary cooperation
among close to 200 states with diverse interests. Having established that the provision of the
sustainability of the global energy system also requires the contribution of public sector
providers, in the next section we consider the governance issues of ‘what’ and ‘how much’
should be provided at the global level.
GLOBAL ENERGY GOVERNANCE AND DEEP ENERGY SECURITY
The switch from state-centric energy security to DES implies a shift in the means and
mechanisms that are best suited to secure humanity and make ‘people free from fear and want
and indignity’ (Gasper, 2005:240). Such a switch also raises the key governance issues of
what and how much of a sustainable energy system should be provided at the global level if
we see such a system as a prerequisite for achieving DES.
Global Level Provision What and How Much In Theory
Global public goods do not necessarily have to be provided by global (intergovernmental or
other) actors. At a general level the provision of a global public good requires a multilayered
approach to governance where measures by diverse actors across governance levels aim for a
common objective. If actors at local, national and regional level, across the globe, provided
substantial contributions to a global sustainable energy system then there may not be much
need for action at global level. This is, however, far from the case and we argue there is
considerable room for global energy governance. The concept of governance can be seen to
imply that there are actors who are taking cooperative action for their common affairs
(Commission on Global Governance, 1995). Using this definition, ‘global energy governance’
would encompass those measures that have as objective to manage energy as a common affair
in the international community (Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, 2010).
Barrett’s (2007) categorisation of GPGs linked to their provision needs illustrates why
global energy governance is needed. He divides GPGs into four categories:
single best-effort GPGs where the provision depends on the single best (unilateral or
collective) effort (knowledge of cures for diseases);
weakest link GPGs where provision depends on the weakest individual effort (control
of pandemics);
aggregate effort GPGs where it depends on the combined effort of all countries and
actors (for example, the Kyoto Protocol’s attempts to address climate change); and
mutual restraint GPGs where states agree to avoid doing certain things (for example,
the Montreal Protocol’s efforts to phase out ozone-depleting substances).
The multiple actions required to deliver a global sustainable energy system would fall under
the aggregate effort, which as pointed out above could in theory be reached by aggregate
efforts at sub global levels. One can of course imagine single countries putting in a lot of
resources into e.g. fusion research and if that was successful some would argue that the
energy provision of the future would be solved. This scenario is unlikely however and it
would still require an enormous aggregate effort to change all the infrastructure to fit a new
type of energy resource. One could also imagine that some would consider nuclear energy as
coming with such risks that it should not be part of a sustainable energy system. In that case
there would also be need for mutual restraint among countries to avoid building more nuclear
power plants. Having established the need for some level of global energy governance, the
question we raise here is how much such governance is needed. This can be answered based
on various allocation criteria. The authors applied the subsidiarity principle with its associated
criteria of effectiveness and necessity used within the European Union to answer this question
and concluded that global provision (through collaboration) is (Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen et al.,
2012:14):
1) effective
when addressing GPG dimensions to policies themselves which are unlikely to
be addressed by individual countries or the market such as knowledge and
norms promoting sustainable energy;
when it aims to strengthen the coherence of the international community’s
governance (coordinating ad hoc efforts and avoiding overlaps).
2) necessary
when lower levels of governance do not have the capacity or will to take action
to promote sustainable energy; or
when global institutions (both norms and organisations) are contributing to
preserving a fossil-fuel based unsustainable energy system
If these two criteria were applied we could imagine a range of initiatives in global energy
governance. These could include: collaborative research projects through pooling of research
resources, extensive knowledge sharing mechanisms; international norms (including treaties)
setting standards for production and consumption parameters related to sustainability;
ambitious coordination mechanisms among existing intergovernmental organisations with
activities supporting energy for sustainable development or even setting up new organisations
for this purpose; large-scale capacityization building and awareness raising programmes for
countries who are doing very little in the field; and radical reorientation of international trade
and financial institutions from implicit and explicit support to fossil fuels towards support for
building a sustainable energy system globally and ensuring deep energy security within and
across states. This is the picture in theory if the principle of subsidiarity and its effectiveness
and necessity criteria were applied. In practice global energy governance looks quite different.
Global Level Provision What and How Much In Practice
In practice global energy governance, defined as supporting a common objective in the form
of a sustainable energy system, is fragmented and dispersed without a strong institutional
framework whether in the form of norms or organisations set up for the purpose (Karlsson-
Vinkhuyzen, 2010). There are certainly many initiatives and activities by international
organisations, by bilateral donor agencies, private-public partnerships and non-governmental
organisations that support a sustainable energy system. Descriptions, and to some degree
analysis, of these can be found in several reports from the UN system, research reports and
papers (Florini and Sovacool, 2011; Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Task Force on Energy, 2002; UN-
Energy, 2006; Modi et al., 2005; Lesage et al., 2009, 2010; Gupta and Ivanova, 2009;
Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen et al., 2012; Steiner et al., 2006). Compared to the need, however, these
activities are still meagre.
Even more meagre, or almost non-existent, are international norms developed
explicitly to support a sustainable energy system. The few efforts that have been made to
develop soft (non-legally binding) norms have either been very vague and non- committing,
see for example the text on energy in the outcome of the United Nations Conference on
Environment and Development in 1992 (UNCED, 1993), the World Summit on Sustainable
Development in 2002 (United Nations, 2002), and the United Nations Conference on
Sustainable Development in 2012 (United Nations General Assembly, 2012).9 The
Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), a commission under the United Nations
Economic and Social Council set up in 1993, has been the only forum where ‘energy for
sustainable development’ has been discussed at any length in an intergovernmental, high-level
context. The CSD discussed energy in 2001 when it adopted an outcome text that again was
quite general (Commission on Sustainable Development, 2001) and again in 2006/7 when no
agreement for an outcome text could be reached due to large disagreements on many of the
themes, but particularly on the role of the global level and the UN in following up on any
decisions adopted (Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, 2010). This failure in outcome of the CSD
dampened the enthusiasm considerably among countries who had wanted to see more of a
role for the UN on sustainable energy. Nonetheless, there were some steps forward after this,
particularly with the UN General Secretary’s launching of the Sustainable Energy for All
initiative and the announcement of 2012 as the UN year for this theme and the UN General
Assembly declaring 20142024 as the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All.10
The Sustainable Energy for All initiative brings together a number of UN
organisations as well as international public-private partnerships, business and other
organisations. In terms of organisations, however, there is no organisation within the UN
system whose exclusive mission is energy, except the International Atomic Energy Agency
whose focus is exclusively on nuclear energy. Many UN organisations work with energy but
often according to their own mandate and the degree of coordination and cooperation across
the UN system is limited (Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, 2010). The establishment of UN-Energy in
2004 as a permanent inter-agency mechanism was an effort to address this gap in
coordination. This non-organisation (it has no staff, no budget etc.) is open to all organisations
in the UN system, including the Bretton Woods institutions. Representatives of its members
meet regularly, share information, stimulate cooperation and occasionally produce
publications, for example with overviews of energy activities in the UN system (UN-Energy,
2006). The future of UN-Energy is, however, uncertain and this mechanism is searching for
its role in the governance landscape (UN-Energy, 2010).
Outside the UN system the International Energy Agency has since the late 1990s
started to expand on its original mandate to provide security in access to fossil fuels such as
oil, and has dedicated efforts to the climate change dimension of energy including energy
efficiency and renewable energy (Van de Graaf and Lesage, 2009). In 2009 the first
intergovernmental organisation dedicated to renewable energy, the International Renewable
Energy Agency (IRENA), was established indicating a strengthened political will for
international collaboration in this field. The organisation has in short time attracted 101 states
as members and an additional 57 states are signatories pending ratification.11
In summary, governments have with a few exceptions been reluctant to develop
international norms and institutionalise cooperation around energy at the global level,
particularly in the only universal multilateral forum, the UN (Karlsson- Vinkhuyzen, 2010). In
parallel, the academic and policy literature on energy has only recently started to use the
concept of global energy governance, and analyse its possible content, role and main actors
(Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, 2010; Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen et al., 2012; Lesage et al., 2009, 2010;
Steiner et al., 2006; Bradbrook and Wahnschafft, 2005; Goldthau and Witte, 2010; Goldthau
and Sovacool, 2012; Florini and Sovacool, 2011).
Not even assessments with an explicit global scope such as the World Energy
Assessment (United Nations Development Programme et al., 2000), and the energy policy
sections in the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC (IPCC, 2007a) discussed the role of
global energy governance. Neither does the Global Energy Assessment do this systematically,
but it does consider the role of international actors and concludes, for example, in its summary
for policy makers that there should be a policy focus in the near term on enhancing
international cooperation in energy technology research and development and technology
standards (GEA, 2012).
CONCLUSION
The human security concept and discourse long remained silent on energy despite the very
strong links between various dimensions of energy production and consumption and human
security and insecurity, links which lately are more clearly exposed in debates about for
example the Millennium Development Goals. The adoption of the concept of DES as a
necessary condition for providing human security provides an opportunity to approach energy
as an ethical and even moral issue. The concept moves the perspective of energy security
from states and the present to individuals and the future, and it highlights the need to expand
the spheres of concern for states from their own citizens to humanity as a whole including
future generations. This normative stance is perhaps radical in an energy policy context, but
we see this as a fundamental first step in reorienting particularly the governments of the world
towards the building of a global sustainable energy system. By approaching a sustainable
energy system as a global public good it becomes clear what central role governments have in
its provision particularly through global cooperation, a role of which governments are
seemingly unaware, or unwilling to admit as indicated by the very humble degree of global
energy governance. The current socio-economic-political system has a long way to go to
achieve ‘Deep energy security’ but we argue that a useful first step is some introspective
reflections, among individuals and governments, on the values and thus objectives around
energy production and consumption that we see as fundamental for sustainable development
and human security in the coming years and centuries.
ENDNOTES
1 See http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/global.html
2 The idea of individual security is a liberal thought from the Enlightenment and as it has
been treated both as a unique and a collective good it is more difficult to determine where the
responsibility for the ensuring individual security lies (Liotta, 2002) The idea of global
citizenship implies the equal value of all human beings and thus concern for the implications
of policies far beyond state borders. See e.g. Dower and Williams (2002) for an elaboration of
the concept.
3 The exception is the reference to one of the benefits of foreign direct investment through
multilateral corporations as being their ability to introduce more and cleaner energy.
4 For an elaboration on the links between health and energy see Bhattacharyya (Chapter 19,
this volume) and Chapter 4 of the Global Energy Assessment (GEA, 2012).
5 The GEA (2012) for example, estimates that 2.75 million premature deaths occur annually
due to outdoor air pollution from energy systems.
6 See http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/global.html.
7 The most comprehensive compilation of climate changes impacts can be found in the Fourth
Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007b).
8 Peters and Westphal (Chapter 5, this volume) and Olaniyi (Chapter 4, this volume) discuss
the possible conflict areas around energy in more detail, the former focusing on interstate
conflicts, the latter on intrastate conflicts.
9 For a discussion and overview of the text and outcome on energy in some of these Summits
see Najam and Cleveland (2003) and Spalding-Fecher et al. (2005).
10 See http://www.sustainableenergyforall.org/about-us (accessed 23 February 2013).
1 1 This figure is as of 5 November 2012, see http://www.irena.org/ (accessed 23 February
2013).
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