A consensus in the scientific community is real and palpable on the fact that a change in global mean temperature in the 21st century, exceeding the two degrees Celsius could lead to irreversible climate changes on a large scale.  These will be catastrophic, and time with the chance to make a correction is quickly diminishing. Contrary to the countries of the Maghreb :  for a transition and energy security, strong resistance in the countries of the North as well as others of the South, to the change of consumption and production systems that are at the origin of the problem, and there is a preference to “quick solutions” as “clean” coal, sequestration and storage of carbon, bio-fuels industrial scaling and nuclear energy. Dr. Abderrahmane Mebtoul, University Professor, Expert International, contributed with an article in the French magazine ‘Les Afriques’ of September 14th, 2016.   Here it is reproduced below, courtesy to Dr A. Mebtoul.

Maghreb :  for a transition and energy security

In the background of a moderate global growth, any oversupply, new global changes and a new model of energy consumption made possible by the significant technical progress with a new energy power world looming, would irremediably require the Maghreb countries to reconsider their energy transition.

In order to ensure coverage of social needs of their peoples, the Maghreb countries should get the necessary energy transition. It can be defined as the passage of a human civilization built on energy essentially fossil, clean, abundant and inexpensive to a civilization where energy is renewable, rare, expensive and cleaner replacement in term of energy (oil, coal, gas, uranium) stock by the energies of flow (wind, solar, biomass). Also it is a matter to identify the concept of energy transition involving answering six key questions.

First, the current development of the extraction of so-called “unconventional” fossil fuels, such as shale gas or deep offshore oil, can push the peak, without changing the finite nature of these resources.

Second, if humanity generalised the wealthy countries mode of energy consumption, it would need resources of 4 or 5 earths, hence the urgency of an adaptation for a new model of consumption.

The social base as defining factor

Third, the energy transition refers to subjects other than technical, posing the societal problematic as much as the energy taxation affecting the choice of benefits resources and having an impact on the distribution of income by socio-professional categories. It is not enough to make a new law, because the defining factor is the social base. This raises the issue of a new model of growth: all economic sectors, all households are concerned: transport, construction and all industries and agriculture. Today’s technical choices involved society in the long term.

Fourth, the energetic transition involves sobriety (energy efficiency), control of demand, awareness, but also training to forge new behaviours and thus a change of culture. That is, what is required are new networks, a new system of financing through new public policies, act on the reduction of energy needs upstream by increasing the effectiveness of the equipment and their uses (for example new processes for the construction – transport sectors for energy savings, more than 7O % of energy consumption) through the renovation of existing buildings and a new mode of transport.

Fifth, this refers to a policy of an energy mix which will require adapting the grid to new uses, assuming a new distribution network tailored to new productions and consumptions to guarantee continuity of supply and at the best price.

Sixth, the energy transition would suppose some social consensus; the social turmoil of Ain Salah are the witnesses. The acceptability of the citizens, for the protection of the environment of the energy costs, to be of benefit to the future generations, because the fundamental question is this: this energy transition, how much will it cost, how much will it be worth and who will be the beneficiaries? Also the energy transition is a long, highly political process which should be treated away from political controversy, whilst being constructive and non-partisan, involving a new model of evolutionary energy consumption: cell phone that for example affect billions of people in the world assuming a power charge. Other new needs may appear over the decades, the strategic objective is to avoid energy poverty of the majority of the population.

A new energy global power by 2030

In General, the energy that is at the heart of the states’ sovereignty and their security policies may cause wars. Technical advances (LNG – Liquefied Natural Gas, shale gas, exploitation of oil and gas exploitation improvement), coupled with the economic dynamics, change the balance of power on a global scale and also affect the political compositions within the countries as in regional areas. One must be realistic, thousands of deposits can financially be found that are unprofitable to deal with because of the international price, costs and competing countries.

Moreover, it is to avoid a unilateral vision, because conventional fossil hydrocarbons will still remain for a long time the main source of energy. Do not be pessimistic; it’s to trust human genius. The passage of the era of coal to that of the era of hydrocarbons is not because there was more coal and tomorrow there will be other energy resources. It is rather due to new technological processes that helped produce on large scale whilst reducing costs thus bringing economies of scale. This contributed to influence the reshaping of global economic power and local and global governance.

For the Maghreb, there is a problem of energy security and the urgency of a reasonable and controlled energy transition within the overall framework of a socio-economic transition. There is urgency to implement the future model of energy consumption, through social dialogue, and to lift all bureaucratic environment that hamper the expansion of the creative company of value added and its foundation of the knowledge economy.

Source :  Les Afriques site international  , Paris-Geneva-Dakar-14/09/2016)

Translation from French by Microsoft / FaroL