Win-Win Energy Policies

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Regarding the Jan. 21 editorial "Energy Independence":

The Post's admonition to focus energy policy on climate change and to ignore energy security, except as a byproduct of climate policy, missed the relationship between the policies and steps being pursued by Europe and the United States on these two issues.

Energy security and climate change are flip sides of the same coin: The steps needed to reduce greenhouse gases are the same as those necessary to increase energy security. The European Union and the United States view these goals as complementary.

For example, a key technology to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal power plants is carbon capture and storage (CCS), which also is a key to using coal in a sustainable manner to ease E.U. dependence on Russia's natural gas. Similarly, biofuels and other gasoline alternatives such as plug-in hybrid vehicles are means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and dependence on oil. The increased attention being given to nuclear power in the United States and Europe also is a result of energy security and climate concerns.

The editorial observed correctly that oil is an international commodity but then argued that the United States therefore by itself cannot affect it in any meaningful way beyond exerting "a moderating influence on oil prices." But the United States is not alone in this: It is engaged in collaboration with Europe and the Pacific Rim on efficiency, CCS and cellulosic biofuels.

It is realistic for the United States to replace 30 percent of its transportation fuels by 2030, and in my view the European Union and China could replace almost as much. This would have a huge impact on prices and diversity of supply. Indeed, Philip Verleger Jr., a prominent oil economist, recently stated that "alternate fuels will take up all the growth, leaving petroleum demand static in the next two or three years."


U.S. Ambassador to the European Union


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