Roundtable: What energy ministers are doing

OECD Observer

Building a new global energy strategy to improve efficiency and tackle global warming requires political leadership. It also demands practical, hands-on policy action. It is one thing for governments to recognise that energy is under-invested, vulnerable and dirty, but are they starting to move?

In this, our fifth ministers’ roundtable since the series was launched in 2001, we ask five OECD ministers responsible for energy from a cross-section of representative countries to answer the following simple question:

What actions are you taking to make energy more secure, cleaner and cost-effective?

The five ministers are: Ian Macfarlane, Australia’s Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources; Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources for Canada; Michael Glos, Minister of Economics and Technology in Germany; Akira Amari, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry in Japan; and Odd Roger Enoksen, Minister of Petroleum and Energy for Norway.

AUSTRALIA: A leader in global co-operation






Ian Macfarlane
Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources

Australia’s energy policies are underpinned by the themes of prosperity, security and sustainability. Our goal is to maintain a thriving economy while strongly positioning ourselves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Australia’s recent domestic energy initiatives have included an overhaul of our fuel excise system; removal of market impediments to the commercial development of renewable technologies; provision of funding to leverage private investment in low emission technologies; and the encouragement of continued energy market reform.

Meeting our increasing energy needs while lowering environmental impacts will require significant international co-operation as well as a strong domestic framework. Australia is fostering greater regional and global co-operation through our roles within key international energy fora.

In December 2006, the International Energy Agency Governing Board convened in Sydney, with an Australian, John Ryan, as Chair. It was the first such meeting held in the Asia Pacific region in over a decade.

Next May, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) energy ministers will meet in Darwin to strengthen APEC’s Energy Security Initiative and work on the development of policies and measures that will promote cleaner and more efficient energy technologies. Australia has committed AUS$100 million over the next five years to the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, with more than half of that recently allocated to investments in cleaner and environmentally-sustainable systems of energy supply.

Australia also plays a significant role in the work of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy and the Methane to Markets Partnership.

Energy security and sustainability are the responsibility of all countries–ignoring the issues or choosing the wrong strategies to deal with them will ultimately be disastrous for global prosperity– whether a nation is resource rich rich or resource poor.


CANADA: A clean energy superpower





Gary Lunn
Minister of Natural Resources

This year the prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, outlined his vision of Canada emerging as an energy superpower capable of delivering energy to the world. Canada is arguably the only stable, democratic country in the world with growing energy-export capability. It is second to Saudi Arabia in proven oil reserves, third in global gas production, second in hydro-electric generation, first in uranium production, and the largest energy exporter to the US.

By 2015, we expect Canada’s oil production to exceed 4 million barrels a day. Canada’s market-oriented approach to energy policy, and our openness to foreign investment, will serve us well in this regard.

Of course, with this natural endowment comes opportunities and responsibilities. These resources must be managed responsibly. Canada has the means to meet a significant share of the world’s energy needs while containing and reducing the environmental consequences of production.

Our next challenge is to become a clean energy superpower. To do this, we must address the fact that the greatest source of untapped energy is the energy we waste. We must also increase our use of renewable energy and science and technology to make conventional energy cleaner.

Canada’s Clean Air Act and its Regulatory Agenda form the backbone of the government’s environmental plan which, for the first time in Canadian history, emphasises regulatory action to limit air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions in the short, medium and long term.

Through this agenda, we are pursuing advances in science and technology to help us produce and use energy more efficiently. We are promoting conservation efforts. We are pursuing cost-saving innovations, such as clean-coal technology, to radically reduce emissions from coal-fired facilities; light bulbs that reduce energy consumption by 90%; tidal turbines that harness the energy of the sea; and carbon dioxide captured and stored in the ground.

These are some of the actions Canada is taking to make energy secure, clean and cost effective. By helping other countries benefit from these innovations, Canada hopes to contribute to a clean global-energy future.

Visit Natural Resources Canada at

GERMANY: Energising the market






Michael Glos
Minister of Economics and Technology

 Securing an economical, reliable, and environmentally-friendly energy supply is one of the top priorities of international as well as national policy nowadays. Global energy needs will be increasing rapidly in the decades ahead. At the same time, markets are changing and climate protection remains a Herculean task.

To improve energy supply security we need open and free markets. Free trade fosters the optimal distribution of scarce energy resources. Competition can develop its impact; greater efficiencies are achieved; exploration projects are implemented; and new technologies evolved. Those technologies that last will be beneficial and secure and, at the same time, the most climate-friendly.

Effective climate protection presupposes a clear awareness among all countries of the global costs and the consequences of climate change. For climate protection to succeed, an international climate regime must be broadly accepted. Not only the US, but also large and fast growing emerging countries such as China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa must commit themselves to effective measures. An isolated climate protection policy conducted unilaterally at national level is both ecologically ineffective and economically fatal. The purpose of climate protection is not to strangle development opportunities or slow down economic growth. Rather, reasonably structured climate protection measures help all of us, including at the economic level. It is therefore important for everyone to participate, and to use market instruments such as emissions trading, which must be further developed on a global scale.

If energy policy is to be environmentally friendly and sustainable, it must also aim at significantly enhancing energy efficiency. The development of more efficient and environmentally-friendly technologies is indispensable, whether for energy production or for the manufacture of consumer goods. And functioning markets are the driving force behind this process.

Visit the ministry’s website at

See also Mr Glos’s website at

JAPAN: A new national energy strategy





Akira Amari
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)

Today, energy heads policy agendas in every country. After decades of enjoying cheap and stable energy supply, the current energy supply and demand structure is extremely tight and unstable. We must explore economic development in light of the continuation of this severe energy situation. Furthermore, we need to implement reliable and sustainable policies to simultaneously address challenges of the global environment and energy security. In addition, energy demand in the Asian region is projected to grow very rapidly. With advanced technology and abundant experience, Japan intends to contribute actively to energy security in this region.

With this recognition, this May, I formulated our “Comprehensive Energy Strategy” in the Liberal Democratic Party. On the basis of this strategy, the government of Japan published a comprehensive and strategic action plan called the New National Energy Strategy.

The centrepiece of this strategy is establishing a state-of-the art energy supply-demand structure by promoting energy efficiency, new and renewable energy, nuclear power and transport energy development.

In addition, Japan will strengthen its resource diplomacy, and energy and environmental co-operation, enhance its emergency preparedness measures and work on its Energy Technology Strategy.

To realise this, we have identified the following five targets that government and the public sectors share and should achieve by 2030:

1. Improve energy efficiency by at least 30%.
2. Reduce oil dependence to 40% or lower.
3. Reduce oil dependence in the transport sector to 80%.
4. Target the share of nuclear power in electricity generation to 30-40%.
5. Increase the share of crude oil owned by Japanese companies to 40%.

As minister responsible for energy at METI and having considerable experience in energy policy formulation, including promulgation of the Energy Policy Basic Law and the promotion of nuclear energy, I regard energy policy, which sustains economic activities, as one of my most important missions. I will implement energy policies effectively based on this new strategy.


NORWAY: Making fossil fuel clean






Odd Roger Enoksen
Minister of Petroleum and Energy

Can a small country play a significant role facing the global energy challenges? The answer could be yes. In the last ten years Norwegian offshore industry has captured carbon dioxide (CO2) and injected it for permanent geological storage beneath the North Sea. Each year a million tonnes of CO2 is injected offshore. Encouraged by the Norwegian CO2 tax, carbon capture and storage curtails carbon emissions equalling 10% of the country’s emissions from road traffic.

The Norwegian government and Statoil, a major energy company, have recently undertaken an agreement to establish the world’s largest full-scale CO2 capture and storage (CCS) project in conjunction with a projected combined heat and power plant at Mongstad, north of Bergen. The project is to be fully operational by the end of 2014. The first stage of the CCS project will be in place at the start-up of the proposed co-generation facility in 2010.

The Mongstad project will be the world’s largest of its kind. By this we move from the research/small-scale phase to actual construction of a full-scale CO2 capture facility. Several technological solutions will be tested in parallel in the first phase of the project. This will be of great interest to any other future gas-fired power plants. The arrangement will ensure that technological developments in Norway will have a broad international relevance and will not be project-specific to our country.

This is an important milestone with global implications. As stated previously by the OECD and IEA, carbon capture and storage could eliminate large quantities of CO2 if applied to fossil-fired plants around the world. Representing the world’s third largest exporter of both oil and gas I am proud that Norway is pioneering CO2 technologies which could pave the way to making fossil fuels a clean source of energy.


©OECD Observer No 258/259, December 2006

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