On February 15, 2023, Ministers responsible for energy from around 40 countries took part in an IEA Ministerial meeting on Gas Markets and Supply Security. Ministers expressed their sincere condolences to Türkiye following the tragic loss of life caused by the devastating earthquakes this month and pledged their continued support for disaster relief and recovery efforts in the country. The Ministers discussed additional ways to work together in solidarity to limit the impacts of the unjustified invasion of Ukraine by Russia, particularly the energy crisis in Europe, and proposed measures to address the global impacts of the energy crisis in support of countries affected worldwide and maintaining momentum on a clean and sustainable energy transition to keep the 1.5°C limit within reach.
The meeting was chaired by Canadian Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, and co-chaired by Irish Minister Eamon Ryan and United States Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M. Granholm, and organized with the support of the IEA’s Task Force on Gas Market Monitoring and Supply Security (TFG), under the leadership of the IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. It brought together ministers from IEA member countries, as well as from Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Latvia, Moldova, Romania, Slovenia and Ukraine, and the European Union represented by the European Commission.
Minister Wilkinson said: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – almost a year ago – has ushered in what the IEA has described ‘the First Global Energy Crisis’, and today we met in solidarity to send a clear message to the world: we remain dedicated to concrete, collaborative action in order to enhance energy security and achieve our climate commitments.”
Minister Ryan said: “Europe has taken united, swift and decisive action to seek to ensure the security of our energy supplies this winter. As we look ahead to next winter, Ministers are working closely together within the EU and together with the International Energy Agency to address the impacts of the energy crisis and maintain our energy security. The good news is that many of the measures we are taking will put us firmly on the right track of the clean energy transition”.
Secretary Granholm said: “The international community was able to act quickly to prevent worst case scenarios amid the global gas crisis – but the manipulation by malign actors will persist beyond this winter, and we cannot simply hope for the relief of more mild seasons. We have a window of opportunity to prepare options for coordinated response, using the best analysis we can muster, and we are committed to making use of it.”
Participating ministers considered the IEA’s analysis of natural gas supply and demand dynamics, and concurred with the need to coordinate plans to mitigate the risks associated with the unpredictability of Russia’s use of energy as a weapon of political coercion, which has resulted in unprecedented price rises and volatility. Such risks need to be assessed in a context of the short-term limited global liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply capacity additions and uncertainty related to the rebound of China’s economy and its potential impacts on global gas demand.
IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said: “While natural gas markets have suffered some bruises, they are today in a better shape than many expected one year ago. But the reality is that winter 2023-2024 is likely to be the real test. The concrete steps we agreed on today, as well as the solidarity we demonstrated, gives me growing confidence that we will be ready to face the next wave of the crisis. There will be difficult days ahead, but the dividends in terms of energy security, affordability and climate neutrality will be long-lasting.”
Ministers were encouraged by the recent stabilisation of the European energy market based inter alia on the actions taken by the EU and European countries to enhance their energy security throughout the 2022-2023 winter months and of the impacts actions have had on global supply and demand dynamics. They noted the actions identified by the IEA Secretariat and TFG and agreed to consider using all the options at their disposal to maintain domestic and regional energy security, that complements the full implementation of their climate commitments. Ministers recommend the TFG develop updated roadmaps on how the options identified in the report could be implemented in the light of the evolution of the global gas crisis and Member countries’ existing or planned implementation of response actions. Ministers noted the importance of continued detailed modeling and analysis, supported by secure data sharing, to inform and support actions to effectively manage serious risks to the resiliency of the global energy systems.
Ministers agreed that energy savings and improved energy efficiency are the first fuel and accelerating the clean energy transition is vital. They welcomed the successful response by the EU and others to the energy crisis in key areas of energy policy, from security of supply and gas storage to gas demand reduction and improved price transparency, faster deployment of renewables, and by targeted upgrades of energy infrastructure. Further more coordinated actions are being prepared to support an orderly storage filling season in the northern hemisphere to enhance European and global energy security, improve global energy affordability, minimise supply disruptions, and leverage transparent and competitive energy markets to minimize the negative impacts of price volatility on consumers, while recognizing the specific needs of price-sensitive purchasers. The IEA will monitor the advancement of countries implementing options available and the ongoing situation of the gas crisis, and the Ministers agreed to reconvene in case of need.
Ministers note that this gas crisis has made it clear that clean energy transition and increasing stability in the global LNG market, specifically security of supply and price stability, is a common task for all gas producing and consuming countries in the world. Moving forward from this meeting, Ministers will continue the discussion concerning additional countries impacted by the global energy crisis. Future discussions will take into account longer-term perspectives and opportunities for dialogues between gas producing and consuming countries, with the objective to avoid repeating the current crisis.
Ministers further decided to expand their dialogue with the broader global community, including through existing multilateral mechanisms such as G7, G20, and PTECC, recognising the need to ensure that short-term actions are taken to address the immediate global energy crisis, while still meeting the Paris agreement targets including pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Ministers agreed on the importance of fostering a common vision on accelerating clean and sustainable energy transitions in order to achieve global energy security and climate goals.