The Myth of "Energy Security"
It's become a synonym for lazy, expensive policies that don't cut oil imports or reduce climate change.
The researchers measure the impact of the 20-20-20 package through independent energy-security indices. Without implementation of the package, slightly more than half of Europe's energy needs would be met by imported fossil fuel by 2020, compared with 50 percent today. If the EU is successful in reducing CO2 emissions by 20 percent by 2020, Böhringer and Keller find that its reliance on imported fossil fuel would be reduced by just two percentage points. This is an awfully long way from self-reliance.
Of course, the EU 20-20-20 plan aims to do more than just reduce emissions; it also attempts to increase renewable-energy use and cut overall energy consumption. The researchers find that the full 20-20-20 plan would actually mean "increased energy imports as well as increased price risks"—mainly because the tax imposed on electricity to achieve the efficiency target of the 20-20-20 plan will affect nuclear power the most. In other words, the very policy that was supposed to achieve greater energy security is in fact likely to hike prices and lead to greater reliance on foreign energy imports.
It is worth noting that these outcomes are based on the optimistic reference scenario used in the U.S. Department of Energy's International Energy Outlook, under which renewable-energy use will grow at a higher rate than in the past. Without this expectation, the EU's policy would likely be even more costly.
In many Western countries, policies are increasingly being wrapped in promises of greater energy security rather than in threats of climate catastrophes. But, because energy security is such a vague concept, these policies are seldom subjected to rigorous scrutiny to determine whether they will live up to politicians' claims.
As the new research shows, we should be especially cautious about the claims of politicians who use current events to justify the old, ineffective climate-change policies on the new and equally problematic basis of energy security.
This article comes from Project Syndicate.