Energy Security For Whom? For What?

by Nicholas Hildyard, Larry Lohmann and Sarah Sexton

first published 16 February 2012

"Energy security" is full of pitfalls, both as policy and as rhetoric. Other ways are urgently needed of discussing and organising for a democractic, fossil-free future.

How can fossil fuels and uranium be kept in the ground and agrofuels off the land in ways that do not inflict suffering upon millions? Mainstream policy responses to these issues are largely framed in terms of "energy security".

Yet far from making energy supplies more secure, such policies are triggering a cascade of new insecurities for millions of people. This report considers the pitfalls of "energy security", both as policy and as rhetoric. Its four sections:

  • explore the abstract and historical energy concept reflected in physics, which ignores the different types of political struggle connected with each energy source;
     
  • describe the wave of new energy enclosures justified by “energy security” that are creating new scarcities and insecurities as people are dispossessed of energy, food, water, land and other necessities of life;
     
  • outline how the neoliberal market-driven approach to energy and climate policy strengthens energy exclusions, while the financialisation of energy and climate creates energy shortages and delays effective climate action; and
     
  • summarise the violence that accompanies the everyday “normal” operation of fossil-fuelled industrialism that is entrenched within the “securitisation of everything”.

(This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of The Corner House and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.)