Reducing Vulnerability: A Transatlantic Approach to Energy Security

Energy security has become a major concern for the transatlantic community in the twenty-first century. In Europe, Russia’s seizure of the Crimean peninsula has renewed focus on the European Union’s energy policy. Germany has been a leader in the field, with a long-term strategy (the Energiewende) that started well before the Fukushima crisis in 2011 to phase out nuclear and diversify to other types of energy.  However, this has come under renewed scrutiny given the country’s interdependence with major suppliers like Russia. The Energiewende itself has less to do with securing existing sources of energy and more with a societal shift away from nuclear and fossil fuels and leading the development of clean, alternative sources of energy.

In contrast, securing reliable access to sources of energy around the world has been a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. Traditional U.S. policy promotes a global free market for energy and this is unlikely to change even in the current period of energy abundance, which itself is a result of heavy investment in technology to extract non-renewables, particularly shale oil and gas. Few have analyzed the geopolitical implications of both of these transformations in the energy sector.

Contrasting the German and American approach to changes in the global energy picture was the basis for AICGS’ project on “The Geopolitics of Energy.”  In this Policy Report, German and American experts tackle this issue from several different issues with global implications. The essays focus on the changing relations between energy suppliers and importers and the problems of access to water and other basic resources, and offer important insights into shaping a transatlantic approach to the energy challenge.

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The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies.