“If I try to find some useful phrase to sum up the time of my childhood and youth before the First World War, I hope I can put it most succinctly by calling it the Golden Age of Security”, pointed out Stefan Zweig, the Austrian cosmopolitan novelist, in his iconic book ‘The World of Yesterday’. This reminds us of the importance of keeping a peaceful coexistence among the nations. One of the key topic of modern world balances concerns the fair negotiations of energy supplies without forgetting to reduce to the minimum their impact on the environment.
The Principality of Monaco has placed a sustainable national energy system program at the forefront, starting from the development of the Mission Energy Transition founded by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco in 2016. That pushed the Monegasque Government to take it very seriously fixing much more ambitious goals than the EU’s 2030 Climate & Energy Framework and the unquestioning target of the Paris Agreement (December 2015). A 50% cut in GHG emissions by 2030 in view of becoming a carbon neutral country in 2050. In this connection, the 4th edition of the Annual Monaco Energy Security Forum, held at the Yacht Club de Monaco on the 31st May 2019, represented a necessary step to encourage a smooth shift towards renewable energy sources with the aim at attaining a self-sufficient system.
Since its foundation in January 2016, in fact, this panel, composed of up to 500 participants, has been gathering in Monaco including key policy makers, energy market players and industry experts. By the will of the founders, H.S.H. the Sovereign Prince, Nikolay Zlochevskyi, President of Burisma Group and Aleksander Kwaśniewski, chairman of ‘Amicus Europae’ Foundation, the Annual Monaco Energy Security Forum is playing a strategic role in joining major stakeholders involved in the energy sector in cooperation with the Atlantic Council of the United States and the Adam Smith Conferences.
The 2019 edition, in particular, focuses on the future of energy security, the new geopolitical situation of hydrocarbons, how to better invest in European innovative energy projects as well as the role of block-chain and cryptocurrencies in boosting energy markets.
Energy security is an essential and complex issue that contribute significantly to the overall balance of economies as underlined by H.S.H. the Sovereign Prince in His official speech. Threats to security, in fact, may arise if any constraint would be introduced to prevent certain people or geographical areas from having free access to energy. Industrial irreversible consequences on the ecosystem resulting from non-conventional methods to extract hydrocarbons or other sources of energy could affect the global stability.
Energy diversification, environmental protection, new infrastructures and a stronger interstate cooperation to encourage dialogue in the European countries are key stones to improve the energy sectors, as stressed by H.E. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, President of Croatia, special guest of this edition.
What inspired then the 4th edition of Annual Monaco Energy Security Forum? HelloMonaco asked Ireneusz Bil (I.B.), director of the Foundation Aleksander Kwaśniewski ‘Amicus Europae’.
HelloMonaco: Mr Bil, what makes this Forum a win-win event?
I.B.: Keeping this Forum as a crucial annual rendezvous in Monaco and as a habit is a sign of success but in order to maintain it winning you have to invest in it. Thus, it makes sense to set this intergovernmental panel in the Principality being an international spot where you can meet people coming from different sites in Europe. The Monegasque territory, being just in the middle of the Mediterranean Basin, acts as a junction for Mediterranean multi-faceted cultures. Furthermore, the personal engagement of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco in major environmental matters is definitely an added value.
HelloMonaco: Talking about energy security, what should be considered as an essential item?
I.B.: What has become perfectly clear from today panels is that you cannot discuss on energy security and supplies without taking into account the environment. This is something that humanity has learnt for the past twenty years. As a matter of fact, climate change is something real that is affecting everyone, both living in the coastal regions or in continental Europe like Slovakia, Hungary, Germany, Ukraine and Poland. According to scientific studies, we are witnessing extreme weather conditions from long drought periods to heavy rains and hurricanes. We are suffering the consequences of an over use of energy as well as an over exponential industry development. Environmental issues are increasingly debated at our Forum that is exploring not only the best way to supply energy but also to control the demand by using renewable sources, implementing new technologies and adopting energy-saving action plans.
HelloMonaco: According to recent data, energy from renewables still represents a minimal percentage of global production, what would you expect in the future considering the exponential growth of power demand?
I.B: Despite the fact that renewable sources of energy are generating just a small portion of total power output, we should consider the relative value more than the absolute value. In a huge industrialized country like Germany, for example, it has already happened that 100% of produced electricity was originated from renewables, especially during summertime. That shows that a revolution is just around the corner. China is currently investing heavily in renewable sources of energy. This new Chinese approach in favour of solar and wind energy will soon have a great effect of scale so important in economics. Through a rapid expansion of ‘clean’ technologies the Chinese situation is being improving. Not by chance, the pollution in Chinese capital of Beijing is much smaller than ten years ago resulting from a national policy that put environment as a priority to improve quality of life and any natural element.
HelloMonaco: What would drive the change to a more sustainable energy security system?
I.B.: I think that big cities and megalopolis will be the big difference more than Countries. A large number of urban areas has the power to change national policies. In the United States, for instance, Los Angeles and San Francisco are leaders in clean energy independently from the central government. Coming back to Europe, Monaco is in a very good position to become a pioneering territory in that field that can positively influence the whole Europe.
HelloMonaco: What would we need urgently to guarantee energy security?
I.B.: A global agreement on responsible trade of energy would be a desirable solution. Today panels put in evidence the uncertainty feeling that is still driving some European Countries in view of new infrastructures under construction, pushing new environmental, social, economic and security challenges.