ABSTRACT

Energy is often said to be the “lifeblood” of modern society. It enables us to fulfill our basic human needs and it powers the world economy. Yet, the energy path we are currently on is clearly unsustainable. Nearly one-third of the world population has no access to electricity, while another third has only poor access. The affluent parts of the world, on the other hand, have become addicted to a polluting, shrinking and insecure resource base. Our massive combustion of fossil fuels unleashes tons and tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, causing the global climate to warm at a destructive pace. On top of that, today’s international oil and gas markets are characterized by an exploding demand, rising extraction costs and dwindling reserves. As a result, oil prices have set new record highs in recent years, reaching an apogee in the summer of 2008, when almost 150 dollars were paid for one barrel of oil. The oil price spike between 2003 and mid 2008 has alerted people to the ultimate finite nature of oil and gas reserves. Nervousness has grown concomitantly to the oil price and consuming countries have become increasingly worried about their security of supply in a world in which energy trade seems more and more subjected to neo-mercantile or even geopolitical imperatives. In short, several trends indicate that our global energy system is not “healthy” and that we need to massively and rapidly alter global energy production and consumption patterns.