Applying an Energy Security Lens
The authors then assess how each scenario affects eleven factors
closely associated with energy security:
- diversity of energy sources;
- diversity of suppliers;
- import levels;
- security of trade flows;
- geopolitics and economics;
- risk of nuclear proliferation;
- market/price volatility;
- energy intensity (energy used per unit of gross domestic
This approach, which we think of as envisioning carbon-constrained
futures through an “Energy Security Lens,” produced
a number of insights that could inform U.S. policymakers as
they consider technologies to address energy, climate, and
- Regardless of fuel and technology choices, some level of
energy insecurity is inevitable, especially in the near term, as
the United States transitions to a low-carbon energy system.
Policymakers should explore ways to mitigate this insecurity
during the transition.
- Meeting GHG reduction goals will be more costly with only
today’s technologies than with high penetration of more advanced
low-carbon energy technologies. Policymakers should
provide the sustained financial and institutional support
necessary to advance all available low-carbon technologies,
which can reduce costs and increase energy security over
the longer term. This will provide the best chance for the
emergence of a variety of technology options and quicken
the transition to a secure low-carbon energy system.
- Global—not just domestic—deployment of advanced lowcarbon
energy technologies can minimize the costs and
energy security risks of achieving climate change goals. The
U.S. should support the adoption of advanced low-carbon
technologies both at home and abroad.
- Common notions of “feasibility” (economic, technical, commercial, political) must be stretched. Policymakers should
prepare the public to accept higher energy prices while making
significant investments in low-carbon energy technologies
and infrastructure. Clearly, such investments are necessary
to ensure that viable alternatives are available when they are
needed. However, energy and economic security concerns
make it equally important that policymakers not take overly
aggressive action that could jeopardize the existing fuel
system until these alternatives can be deployed at scale.
- A non-carbon-constrained energy future also raises questions
of feasibility and significant energy security concerns.
A low-carbon future with advanced technology development,
however, offers significant commercial and energy security