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The Myth of Green Energy Security

In many Western countries, climate-change policies are increasingly being wrapped in promises of greater energy security. But the old, discredited policies look no better in their new packaging.

COPENHAGEN – Turmoil across the Middle East and Northern Africa has refocused attention on the impact that political tensions or interference can have on the price and availability of energy imports. Against consumer fears of gas-price hikes, energy security ranks high on many Western governments’ policy agendas.

Of course, this is hardly a new phenomenon: Europe started trying to build up its energy reserves back in the 1960’s. Likewise, every American president since Richard Nixon in the early 1970’s has tried, and failed, to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

A new trend, though, is that policies that just a few years ago were being touted to fight climate change are being presented as a necessary way to increase energy security. Against the backdrop of the financial crisis, and as public support for climate-change policies scrapes new lows in many developed countries, we hear less from leaders about the threat of global warming, and more about the supposed economic benefits of climate policies.

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