Energy Security and Energy Strategies

Shared interests and perspectives on cooperation between Europe and Israel

Germany is happy to have good friends with whom it can pioneer a promising way out of the problem of energy dependence. Israel is among these friends, and it is certainly among the most qualified partners in that field one can wish for.

Welcoming remarks by Michael Mertes, Director of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s Israel Office

Dear Professor Rivka Carmi,
Dear Professor Pedro Berliner,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Honoured guests:

A warm welcome to all of you on behalf of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation! We are proud of the privilege to organize this joint venture with the world famous Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research. Today’s event brings together outstanding scholars, scientists, political decision makers, business people, students and specialists from Israel and Europe – and it aims to foster the exchange of knowledge and cooperation between our two regions in the field of energy security and energy strategies.

Those who have come here from far away – be it in Israel or abroad – are well aware that people in the area of Beer Sheva have lately been suffering under permanent rocket attacks from the Gaza strip. Although we are outside the reach of these attacks in Sde Boker, our conference has unwittingly turned into an international demonstration that nobody will deter us from jointly thinking about roads to a better future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung is a political foundation, combining thinktank work, civic education at home and exchange of ideas abroad. We are independent of, but associated with, the Christian Democratic Union of Germany, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel who is a member of our board (and who was, by the way, Germany’s Federal Environment Minister in the 1990’s).

We have been active in international cooperation for half a century this year, and we are present all over the world with some 80 country offices. In the greater region of North Africa and the Middle East, the Stiftung is represented in capitals from Rabat and Tunis to Ankara and Abu Dhabi, and there is a very close cooperation between our offices in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman.

As you are certainly aware, dealing with the effects of climate change and negotiating international binding agreements has been on top of the German government’s agenda for many years.

You may remember that Germany lost its bid three years ago to be allocated the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). At the end of a tough competition, Abu Dhabi won in June 2009 at IRENA’s Sharm el Sheikh conference. However, it was more than a consolation prize that Germany was given IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre which has been operative in Bonn since October last year. Its mission is to foster the use of renewable energy sources, including wind power, hydro-power and solar power.

There are at least four reasons why Germany has been strongly committed to the subjects of today’s conference:

  • Environmental protection has been a major political issue in our country for more than 40 years. While it used to be a kind of unique selling point for the Green party whose rise began in the second half of the 1970’s, it has become a mainstream subject on the political agenda.
  • The second reason has to do with our vital foreign and security policy interests. Like most Western countries, we are still too dependent on energy imports from unstable or potentially unstable countries and regions. This makes us susceptible to political blackmail. Furthermore, we believe that climate change itself has dangerously destabilizing effects. It increases poverty and misery, distributional conflicts, and migratory pressure – not least in Africa, our neighboring continent.
  • Thirdly, we believe that economic growth has to be uncoupled from energy consumption. The German economy is in comparatively good shape right now, as is Israel’s. But there is no reason to take the status quo for granted. In Germany, some 400 000 jobs are provided by the renewable energies sector. It is one of the most innovative sectors of our economy, and it is no doubt a driver of future growth.
  • Last but not least, the Fukushima disaster has led the German government to phase out nuclear energy by 2022. This has been a highly popular decision, but it means that the goals the German government had set itself in terms of climate protection have to become even more ambitious. So far, the goals had been to double energy productivity by 2020, to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 21 percent of the 1990 levels by the end of this year, and to increase the amount of power generated from renewable sources so as to account for at least 30 percent of the total by 2020 – right now, it accounts for 17 percent of our electricity production.

As for the problem of energy dependence, Germany is happy to have good friends with whom it can pioneer a promising way out. Israel is among these friends, and it is certainly among the most qualified partners in that field one can wish for. Energy independence is one of Israel’s top priorities. The country’s need for a sophisticated energy strategy and for alternatives to conventional energy sources has been a strong driving force in Israeli science and technology, research and development.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Once again, I am very happy to welcome you here, close to the final resting place of David Ben Gurion. He and Konrad Adenauer, whose name our Foundation is proud to bear, set the course for German-Israeli partnership and friendship.

It has become an unparalleled success story, and I believe we can add a little, though significant, chapter to it by what we are doing today.

In the media:

Jerusalem Post, March 19, 2012: Experts: Israel should not export natural gas

Authors

Michael Mertes, Evelyn Gaiser

published

Israel, March 18, 2012