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Turkey and the Changing Dynamics of World Energy: Towards Cleaner and Smarter Energy

Tectonic changes are not occurring only in the world financial system, trading and investment, geopolitics, and technology; a fundamental transformation is also underway in the global energy system. Myriad trends indicate that the current system is far from being sustainable. It will be shaped by rising demand over the long term, dominance of fossil fuels, inaccessible supplies, price volatility, inadequate investment, geopolitical tensions, and climate change. In the midst of these game-changing developments, Turkey has emerged as an important actor to reckon with as a consumer, transporter, investor, regional hub, and security provider in energy and geopolitics. Turks are acting increasingly in pursuit of their own self-interest, rather than sheepishly following the dictates from Washington or Brussels. The paper concludes with a number of policy recommendations for government and business leaders in promoting further co-operation and partnership towards cleaner, smarter and secure energy, rather than fanning confrontation in search of balanced energy supply and demand for all players.

 

Modern countries need ever increasing amounts of oil, gas and other fuels to run their economies. It is the life-blood. As globalization lifts millions out of poverty, the demand for energy worldwide will continue to grow, and we risk ending up with a volatile, “beggar thy neighbor” style of competition between countries to control sources of supply, especially in the developing world. 

Even casual newspaper readers have become aware that there are very strong links between growth in energy demand, economic development, security, and foreign policy. Precisely what these links comprise is not always clear. The problems of energy “dependence,” “independence,” and “interdependence” are being debated in a burgeoning literature for both laymen and specialists. The deployment of oil as a political weapon occurred most manifestly during the 1973-74 Arab embargo. More recently, Iraq’s invasion and Russia’s use of gas as the Kremlin’s instrument of choice in relations with other C.I.S. countries and the EU came to the spotlight, as did China’s expanding acquisitions of energy assets worldwide1

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