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Energy security in a developing world

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Abstract

Energy security, a fuzzy concept, has traditionally been used to justify state control over energy and a reluctance to deal with energy issues at global level. However, over time, the concept is acquiring different meanings that are applicable at different levels of governance. Many of the elements of the new definitions also imply a number of inherent contradictions. Against this background, this article explores the dimensions of energy security with a special focus on the developing world. It argues that (1) within developing countries (DCs), energy security implies both access to modern energy services by the poorest as well as access by the rapidly developing industrial, services, and urban sectors. Lack of adequate resources has implied trade-offs in terms of who gets access and in terms of taking into account the social and ecological consequences of specific energy sources. Furthermore, (2) the growing DCs' need for energy is impacted by industrialized country perceptions of the various dimensions of energy security—recognizing the need for access to the poorest; industrialized countries are increasingly implicitly questioning the right of DCs to use fossil fuels because of its implications for climate change; or to build large dams because of ecological and social security concerns or expand nuclear energy because of its potential security implications. The development of reliable, continuous, affordable, and environmentally sound provision of energy services combined with a focus on energy efficiency and conservation is the only way of alleviating the various multi-level dimensions of energy security. WIREs Clim Change 2011 2 627–634 DOI: 10.1002/wcc.118

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