Energy Ministers Conference: Hamburg G7 Initiative for Sustainable Energy Security

"We have to make sure that our sustainable energy supply is secure for the long term," said Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel at the G7 Energy Ministers Conference in Hamburg. In their end-of-session communiqué the G7 Energy ministers agreed on various priority areas and lines of action that can help to put a sustainable energy supply on a more secure basis.

US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Italy's Minister of Economic Development Federica Guidi, Japan's Vice-Minister of Economy Shigeki Iwai, Canadian Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Bob Hamilton, the EU Commissioner for Energy Miguel Arias Cañete and the EU Commissioner for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič, representatives of France and the United Kingdom, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Maria van the Hoeven and the Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Adnan Z. Amin followed the German G7 Presidency's invitation to Hamburg on 11 and 12 May. Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel expressed his satisfaction with the outcome: after the previous G7 Energy Ministers Conference held in Rome in May 2014 – which had focussed primarily on the gas supply security situation against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis – the Hamburg summit addressed other important issues in detail. Gabriel had already made clear in advance what they were going to be: "This year I would like to broaden the focus and look at all the energy resources that help to make a sustainable energy supply more secure. The emphasis is on the issues of energy efficiency, innovative technologies such as offshore wind energy, and the security of electric power systems with a growing share of input from renewable sources."

On the agenda: energy efficiency and cyber security

The energy ministers' consultations in Hamburg focussed, among other topics, on energy efficiency. This was not only the key to modernising national economies but also an easy way of saving money and protecting the climate, said Gabriel. The current phase of low energy prices was just the right time to invest in greater energy efficiency: "If we hesitate now, it will cost many times more when the next phase of higher energy prices comes around."

The G7 countries could learn a lot from each other on the topic of energy efficiency, stressed Germany's Economic Affairs Minister. One example is Japan's Top Runner Approach: under this programme the end-use appliances with the highest energy efficiency in their class set the mandatory benchmark which competitors have to equal within the next target period. Devices whose energy consumption is by then still conspicuously higher than the best-practice products may no longer be sold. In the past, this rule has led to efficiency standards for example for air conditioning systems being significantly improved.

In the context of energy security, the topic of "cyber security" was discussed for the first time: with a digital energy infrastructure that is becoming increasingly intelligent, the risk of attacks via the web is on the rise. These threats are becoming more and more complex and sophisticated, and they are of equal concern to all countries. With this in mind, The G7 energy ministers agreed In Hamburg to reinforce their cooperation in the field of cyber crime in the energy sector.

Common objective: a successful agreement in Paris in 2015

"What unites us is that all our countries are pursuing the same goal. That is to be able to conclude a successful international agreement on climate change mitigation in Paris at the end of the year," said Gabriel at the closing press conference. The G7 countries realised that to this end they needed to establish a high level of security for their energy supply systems and focus on protecting the climate.

Climate change and energy security: the German Presidency has also placed these two topics on the agenda for the G7 summit to be held on 7 and 8 June in Schloss Elmau, Bavaria. Besides the content of the final communiqué, agreement was also reached in Hamburg on further courses of action which were submitted to the heads of state and government for their approval.