Historically, energy has been critically important for global economic and political transformations. Since the 19th century, coal and then oil have become energy derivatives shaping regional and global competition between countries and a basic reason for wars. There is intense global competition concerning many primary energy supply facilities, including nuclear and renewable energy today.
Global energy policies take shape via competition for primary energy supply types and technology developed for energy supply and demand. The United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP21), held in Paris, was crucial as it imposed new obligations on contracting states with regard to carbon emission. States' technological achievements in energy and the successful results obtained from energy efficiency give hints about what countries will come to the fore in global competition in terms of fulfilling these obligations.
Sustainable energy policies becoming important for countries
After 39 years, Istanbul is hosting the 23rd World Energy Congress in an environment where these global issues are hotly debated. As one of the most critical countries in terms of energy corridors between East and West and the most influential bridge between production and consumption centers, Turkey will host critical meetings and bilateral and trilateral meetings between leaders on the future of energy technologies, energy efficiency and sustainability, primary energy resources and the price of global energy derivatives for the next 20 to 30 years.
We are at a critical threshold where present and future roles that countries play and will play in the international energy sector will undergo major changes on a regional and global scale. Thus, the position of Turkey's primary and secondary neighboring countries in global energy strategies and the pivotal role of Turkey in the process will be one of the priority issues discussed during the congress. Great changes and debates on global economy and politics push countries to move away from dependency on foreign energy resources. Therefore, they try to create strategies to reduce their foreign dependence by using local energy resources, especially coal and lignite.
Global change in the center of gravity affects energy strategies
For the same reasons, Turkey creates strategies using indigenous resources more frequently in energy production. We observe that more local projects, including new technology and production of clean energy, are the focus of Turkey's national energy strategy. In the global economic system, the center of gravity is shifting from the West to the East due to global population projections. We will observe very important population growth in developing regions in the next 10-25 years. Even though we are not happy with the growth rate, the increase in average living standards in developing economies results in substantial energy consumption. Thus, the weight of prominent developing economies like Turkey will seriously increase in determining global energy strategies. At such a critical period when the center of gravity globally changes, this change will have grave effects on global and regional energy strategies.
Thus, the U.S., a net importer of energy, preferring importing from the world instead of producing the energy reserve on its land since 1972, decided to change its strategy as of spring 2013 and entered a new period that will make it a net energy exporter and lifted the ban on energy export, indicating that all the energy producer and intermediate countries want to clench and strengthen their roles in global energy policies and energy games, while the global economy's center of gravity changes.
From this point of view, the 23rd World Energy Congress hosted by our Energy Ministry in Istanbul under the aegis of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey will witness shows of strength by all actors in the energy sector and display their positions for the next 20 years.
About the author
Kerem Alkin is an economist, professor at Istanbul Medipol University. He currently serves as the Turkish Permanent Representative to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).