By Marian Schoen, Cliamte-KIC Australia, Regional Director – Victoria/Tasmania and National Director – Partnerships

The challenge of energy security was the focus of a recent inaugural international dialogue on ‘Global Energy Security and Climate Change in Australia, Europe and the Asia-Pacific Region’, presented in late March by the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation (KAS) Regional Program Australia and A/Pacific, European Centre for Energy and Resource Security (EUCERS), Kings College London in collaboration with Climate KIC Australia.

Over fifty high level participants from government, business and academia exchanged comparative perspectives on the challenges for developing comprehensive energy security strategies, the opportunities of digitalisation, cyber security risks as well as regional climate and resource security issues.

Taking part in the Canberra event from Australia were Climate KIC Board Member Professor Stuart White together with the Australian Ambassador on the Environment HE Patrick Suckling, the German Ambassador to Australia HE Dr Anna Prinz; Dr Kerry Schott, Chair, Energy Security Board; Tony Wood, Program Director, Energy, Grattan Institute; Kane Thornton, CEO, Clean Energy Council and Jeff Connelly, CEO Siemens Australia.

European participants included the EUCERS Director, Prof. Dr. Friedbert Pflüger, a former German Secretary of State and Foreign Policy Advisor to Chancellor Angela Merkel; Mr Carsten Müller, Member of German Federal Parliament; Dr Peter Röttgen, Executive Director, German Renewable Energy Federation; Dr Joachim Lang, Director General, Federation of German Industry (BDI) and Christoph von Speßhardt, Vice Chairman, German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency.

Tony Arnell, President of the Energy Efficiency Council chaired a roundtable as part of the dialogue in Melbourne to explore opportunities for future collaboration between Australia and Germany on energy efficiency with members of the European delegation and Victorian policymakers, energy researchers and industry representatives.

Climate KIC CEO Chris Lee participated in the discussion together with Stan Krpan, CEO Sustainability Victoria, Professor Ross Garnaut and Associate Professor Malte Meinshausen, Australian German Energy Transitions Hub; Kath Rowley, Executive Director Climate Change Policy, Department of Environment; Martin Hablutzel, Head of Strategy, Siemens and Jo Witters, Executive Manager Innovation, Australian Energy Market Operator.

As one of the two pillars of the German Energiewende, a national framework for energy efficiency had been established three years ago. Energy efficiency provided a bridge between energy and industrial policy, and a global carbon price agreed in principle by the B20 would make energy efficiency solutions more attractive. However, reliance on renewable technologies alone would not meet carbon reduction targets, therefore energy efficiency measures were required.

A date for a complete phase-out of coal was expected to be set by the end of the year in Germany, which would provide traditional utilities with the certainty to adjust strategy and investment. The role of innovation in the energy transition was critical, with many complex new business cases and opportunities emerging such as smart cities, and mobility. New technologies such as bitcoin were not designed for energy efficiency nor security, which needed to a global system of regulation, otherwise they pose cyber-security risks and would eliminate other energy efficiency gains.

German industry had developed an energy and climate policy paper ‘Climate Paths for Germany’ which sets out the technically feasible and economically viable strategies and implementation challenges for the successful 80-95 GHG emissions reduction on 1990 levels by 2050.