Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, University of Tokyo

Energy security is the common concern for the East Asian and the Gulf nations. Energy security is like a coin, on the one side the security of supply must be secured for the oil importing countries whereas on the other side, the security of demand must be maintained for the oil producing countries.

As diplomacy for further climate action intensifies, common actions by the Gulf oil producers and the East Asian consumers are needed.

The Group of Seven (G7) countries have agreed to commit themselves to reduce drastically carbon emissions at the summit meeting held in June in Cornwall, Britain. In the joint communiqué, leaders of the G7 countries pledged to halve the collective emissions in 2030 compared with the emissions in 2010 and to attain the net zero goal till 2050. They are ambitious goals and not certain to be achieved, still they set the standards and future directions. 

The European Union unveiled on July 14 a series proposals for its 27 member countries to attain the goal of “carbon neutral” by 2050. They include a proposal to effectively ban the sale of petrol and diesel powered cars within 20 years.

For Japan, which is among the most energy efficient countries in the developed economies, there are not much to conserve anymore, and the European-led standards of carbon neutral goals effectively eliminate the possibility of continuing the use of the coal-fired power plant for the G7 countries, even when the Japan-developed high efficiency coal-fired power generation plants which reduces carbon emissions are to be fully introduced. Even the refined and precious technology of the energy-efficient hybrid engine behicles, in which Toyota surpasses others and dominates the world market, could be decommissioned forcefully.

Japan’s policy toward the difficult goals involves technologies such as carbon capture and carbon storage by which emissions are removed from the atmosphere to achieve the “net zero.”

“Net zero” concept is also attractive to the Gulf energy giants, which are anticipated to remain as oil and gas producers and exporters even after the various efforts of diversification are to be made, as long as their dominant role in the world energy market keeps itself till the mid-century. With their highly cost-competitive oil and gas sectors and the largest proved reserves, it is plausible that they keep the dominance in the market and even increase the share in it while high-cost producers are ultimately forced to exit from the competition under the multiplied pressure of the tighter restrictions and the higher standards for decarbonization.

The East Asian consumers are also expected to continue relying on the energy imports from the Gulf, and thus there are much room for cooperation.