First Energy Leaders Summit took place in Beijing - dinner topic: oil spill
WEC's first Energy Leaders Summit took place in Beijing last week and was marked by high level representation from a number of Asian and international companies and by energetic and insightful dialogue during the sessions. Issues discussed included energy security in Asia, the role of renewables and energy efficiency, and financing mechanisms to fight energy poverty. Much ground was covered, yet the following issues resonated with me.
First, once again, it came out that energy security is the prime issue and that the Chinese model with strong governance and policies on the one hand, and high competition on the other, is appealing. The latter is interesting also with a view on early results from the 2nd iteration of our Policy Assessment (which will be released at the Congress) where market reform / liberalisation come out as unsuccessful in many cases, as they fail to meet expectations in generating competition.
Second, countries are focused on the adjustment of their technology mix and while costs remain the fundamental driver, it is clear that "green growth" (South Korea) or "scientific growth" (China) increasingly address new drivers. As an example, the water-energy linkages play a role in water scarce China and are carefully monitored, as was pointed out by the Deputy Director General of China's National Energy Administration (NEA), Ms Gu Jun.
Third, progress to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is only possible if the 1.5 billion energy poor - to 85% in rural areas - gain access to energy. Panellists highlighted the importance of financing mechanisms ("loans and grants are not bad words in this context"), of "local-technology" engineering concepts ("rural communities need to be able to do repair work by themselves"), and of local ownership and responsibility for operation. It was proposed that a systematic mapping of villages without access, combined with an inventory of available resources, needs and capacity to pay, would be a pragmatic approach for WEC to facilitate the establishment of a "market place for projects".
Fourth, the oil spill was an unavoidable and omnipresent issue during panels and at dinner tables. A number of participants felt that the enforcement of safety through peer review mechanisms would be a constructive industry response to "what may be the biggest energy crisis since the Chernobyl accident". WEC committed to organize a workshop to further elaborate on this issue during the Montreal Congress.
Finally, learning about the multi-faceted and balanced approaches, it becomes clear that the world sometimes underestimates the sophisticated thinking and pragmatic leadership that makes things happen in a China with uniquely complex and challenging sets of problems: water scarcity, dramatic urbanisation pressure, high GDP growth rates, local pollution, to name just a few. It is also clear that who does not understand China does not understand energy today, as much leadership is shown, be it in the context of renewable energies (wind, solar), nuclear energy, or the introduction of smart grids and technology. The Energy Leaders Summit has delivered insights and improved mutual understanding. This shall not be the end of a story, said Ms Gu Jun from NEA, but "the beginning of an ongoing dialogue."
The only blue note: we were disappointed about the absence of Minister Zhang Guobao but understand that he had to travel with his premier to Uzbekistan for the signature of a gas contract. He was represented by Mr Wu Guihui, Director General of the Department of International Cooperation at the National Energy Administration of China, who was an engaging host, together with his deputy and his team. Going forward, he will assume the role as Secretary General of WEC China.
I would like to thank the whole team, our friends at China's National Energy Administration, and the involved Asian Member Committees, particularly Korea, India and Japan, with special thanks to Mr Li Longxing for his support and to Yoshiaki Imaizumi for his leadership to make our first Energy Leaders Summit a success. This was an important milestone in the implementation of our new strategy and in our relationship with China. On the visibility side, Chantal Dufresne successfully managed to raise visibility of the World Energy Council in the Chinese media - this, with a view to the forthcoming Congress in Montreal. I also want to recognize that without the financial support from our Patrons and Global Partners, such events are not possible.
Dr. Christoph Frei,
World Energy Council
The World Energy Council in partnership with Oliver Wyman (global consulting firm) has over the past year worked on its third Assessment of country energy and climate policy aiming to identify key areas for policy improvements and to understand how successful policies can be transferred from one country to another. more >