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Silvana Bartoletto

The Mediterranean region plays a strategic role for energy due to the presence of Libya and Algeria that have large reserves of oil and gas, and the discovery of new offshore gas fields in Egypt, Israel and Cyprus. The Mediterranean region is also an important energy transit due to the presence of strategic chokepoints for maritime traffic of oil tankers, such as the Suez Canal and Turkish straits. The role of the Mediterranean region as an energy corridor is reinforced by the presence of pipelines that transport oil and gas from the Middle East, Russia, Azerbaijan and other former Soviet Union States to consumer countries. The war in Syria, the recent epilogue of the war in Libya, which saw as protagonists on the one hand Russia, and on the other Erdogan’s Turkey, remind us once again of the strategic importance of the Mediterranean and the need to implement Euro-Mediterranean cooperation.

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Silvana Bartoletto

The Mediterranean is an ancient crossroads comprising 25 countries that are part of the Middle East, North Africa, the European Union (EU) and candidate countries to the EU. There are large divides within the Mediterranean region not only with regard to population dynamics, but also from an economic perspective: the more affluent countries that are part of European Union, contrast with their developing counterparts on the eastern shores and especially those on the southern shores, namely Algeria, Egypt, Libya and Morocco. However, because of the conflicts and serious unrest that began in 2011 with the so-called Arab Spring, in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa there has been a slowdown in growth rates. In Syria, as a result of the ongoing war, the economy has been devastated. Also in Libya, GDP per capita has further decreased, because of the unrest and political and economic instability that the country is still experiencing. Increasing population and economic development has led primary energy consumption in the Mediterranean region to more than double. North African and Middle Eastern countries have been affected by a sharp increase in energy consumption, triggered by consumer subsidies, which have caused overconsumption. The effects are levels of energy intensity higher than the worldwide average, and hence below-average energy efficiency. The gaps in per capita consumption levels are considerable. There is not only a divergence between the countries of the North and those of the South, but even within the individual areas the differences are considerable. However, the Gini index, calculated on per capita energy consumption of each Mediterranean country, confirms the reduction of the gap over time. The energy balance of the Mediterranean region is also dominated by fossil fuels, which make up 76 percent of total primary energy consumption. Indeed, the rapid growth of fossil fuel consumption in the developing countries of North Africa and the Middle East, has made the Mediterranean's share of renewable energy lower than its global counterpart.

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Silvana Bartoletto

The Mediterranean region plays a strategic role for energy due to the presence of Libya and Algeria that have large reserves of oil and gas, and the discovery of new offshore gas fields in Egypt, Israel and Cyprus. The Mediterranean region is also an important energy transit due to the presence of strategic chokepoints for maritime traffic of oil tankers, such as the Suez Canal and Turkish straits. The role of the Mediterranean region as an energy corridor is reinforced by the presence of pipelines that transport oil and gas from the Middle East, Russia, Azerbaijan and other former Soviet Union States, to the main supply markets, including Europe. Libyan oil production, exports and related revenues sharply reduced after the end of the Gaddafi regime, which was deposed in October 2011. In recent months, the involvement of Russia and Turkey in the Libyan crisis, also from a military point of view, has become considerable. From the energy crises of the 1970s to the riots of the Arab Spring, one of the main unsustainable factors of the energy system was the high price of oil. Starting from 2014 the price of oil has plummeted, creating major problems for the producing countries, where the reduction in oil revenues translates into an increase both in the fiscal deficit and public debt. The collapse in the price of hydrocarbons is having not only economic repercussions, but also effects in terms of balances between powers within the energy market. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, Algeria and Libya, for example, need to sell their hydrocarbons to support their economies and are therefore dependent on their exports just as the Western countries depend on their imports. In this context which has changed in just a few years, the governments of the various countries now need to examine the security of energy supplies, putting in place new policies that finally take note of the close interdependence between producer and consumer countries. The drop in oil prices could have greater social and economic consequences than the Arab Spring in 2011.

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Silvana Bartoletto

Energy security in Mediterranean countries has been a major concern since the early twentieth century when military needs dictated the switch from coal to oil. The link between energy and politics further strengthened during World War II. Energy also became an important factor in the “Cold War”, and Middle Eastern oil was considered an important factor for the success of Western alliance. This meant that European countries reduced their reliance on domestic coal and became dependent on oil from the Middle East. The impact of decisions taken within the Marshall Plan significantly changed the geography of energy supplies: Europe began to be reliant on oil from the Middle East, reducing the level of energy autonomy which in previous years had been afforded by domestic coal production. The first post-war oil crisis (1951-1952) showed that the growing dependence of Europe on Middle Eastern oil created enormous problems for the security of energy supplies. The Suez crisis of 1956-1957 represented another major shock for international oil markets, since about 70% of oil exported from the Middle East to Europe was shipped through the Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. In 1960, during a conference organized in Baghdad, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was created with the aim of acquiring full control over oil production and prices. Since the early 1960s Libya has become one of the leading oil exporting countries. Thanks to oil exports, Libya became not only financially self-reliant but wealthy enough to influence other countries. With the 1969 revolution, Gaddafi and a group of young officers ousted the monarchy. The Arab oil embargo of 1973-1974 represented a watershed in terms of security of energy supply in the Mediterranean area. The worst crisis for the oil markets was about to come: the Iranian revolution of 1978-1979 caused panic and a rapid increase in oil prices. The Persian Gulf crisis represented the first oil crisis to occur after the end of the Cold War. When Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Kuwait, international markets had another jolt, since the new war became a geopolitical oil crisis, and the oil question was one of the reasons for the anti-Iraqi reaction.

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Silvana Bartoletto

To better understand future energy transitions of emerging economies, it is important to identify and analyze the factors that have driven the past energy transitions in those countries that now have developed economies. The trend of energy efficiency in an historical perspective is an important aspect that should be considered when studying present and future energy transitions. Each energy transition has a cost, generally associated with lower energy efficiency of the new energy sources. History tells us that it is a sort of necessary step, but thanks to technological progress, this constraint can be overcome. By analyzing the trend of energy intensity during a shorter or longer period, we can thus evaluate the extent to which decoupling of energy consumption and economic growth has occurred. Improving energy efficiency is fundamental for reducing energy consumption, air pollution and improving energy security. To evaluate energy efficiency in Mediterranean countries, we consider total final energy consumption and energy intensity by sector. Final energy consumption depends on the structure of the economy, which is reflected in the demand for energy services such as transport, lighting, cooking, warming, industrial goods and so on. Another important determinant of energy efficiency is the energy mix. Within the North African region, Morocco and Tunisia have the highest percentages of charcoal and firewood consumption for cooking, albeit well below the average of African countries. If the final energy intensity of single North African countries is compared, there is a clear process of convergence. At the beginning of the 1970s the gap between countries was wide. Subsequently, the growth of final energy intensity in Algeria and Libya, and the contraction in Egypt and Tunisia, led to a decrease in the divide within the North African region.

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Silvana Bartoletto

The Mediterranean region is considered a major hotspot of climate change, whose adverse effects could be both substantial and numerous. Climate change across sub-Saharan Africa would have a disastrous impact on North Africa, with severe repercussions on Southern Europe, including a further increase in migration flows. Several steps have been taken by the European Union to promote dialogue and cooperation with the Southern and Eastern shores of the Mediterranean. A fundamental step was the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Foreign Affairs Ministers, held in Barcelona on 27 and 28 November 1995, which defined the political, economic and social framework of the relations between the European Union and those of the Mediterranean area. Within the Barcelona process, an important role was given to energy, but not only to renewable production, but also to exploration, production and trade in fossil fuels. Europe is faced with the problem of high energy dependency and security of its energy supply. Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, especially the Barcelona process, was relaunched in 2008 with the creation of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). Moreover, current upheavals across the Middle East and North Africa, pose the question of whether these structures and tools are suitable to tackle a global picture which has rapidly changed. Over the past 50 years there has been a major change in the distribution of energy consumption within the Mediterranean region: while in the early 1970s North Africa represented only 4% of the total consumption of the Mediterranean region, and the countries belonging to the European Union 81%, during 2016 the relative weight of North Africa rose to 19% while that of the European Union decreased to 59%. There has been an increase not only in overall consumption but also in per capita consumption in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East, although the gap compared to the countries of the European Union remains very wide. In Turkey, strong economic growth since the mid-1990s has had important repercussions on energy consumption and the environment, leading to a significant increase in the consumption of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions. Analysis of the past 50 years has shown that growth rates of CO2 emissions in North Africa are very high, especially in Algeria and Egypt. The same can be said for the Middle Eastern countries, especially Jordan and Lebanon, where both the increase in per capita consumption and the increase in the population are driving the growth of CO2 emissions. Considering absolute values, almost half of such emissions are produced by the countries belonging to the European Union, especially by France, Italy and Spain, which together produce about 42 percent of the total emissions of the Mediterranean area. This fact should not be overlooked: while the growth rates of CO2 emissions in the countries belonging to the European Union have decreased significantly over time, the fact remains that they are responsible for most of the emissions of the entire Mediterranean region. In the meantime, since CO2 emissions are growing in North Africa and the Middle East, the estimate of the Gini index confirms that the gaps are narrowing not only for per capita energy consumption, but also for CO2 emissions.

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Silvana Bartoletto

The Mediterranean is an area characterized by strong institutional, economic and social differences. In recent decades there has been a process of economic convergence, which has also been reflected in the trend of per capita energy consumption and CO2 emissions, as shown by our estimates of the Gini index. Despite the convergence process, there remain great differences in income, energy consumption and CO2 emissions levels. Although the European Union is seeking to intensify relations with North Africa and the countries of the Middle East in the energy sector, concrete implementation of energy policies faces many obstacles. Since the Mediterranean is one of the regions most exposed to the problem of climate change, the increase in the share of renewables is above all a question of greater environmental sustainability of energy consumption, but it is also an important aspect of the security of energy supplies.

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Silvana Bartoletto

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Silvana Bartoletto

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Energy Transitions in Mediterranean Countries

Consumption, Emissions and Security of Supplies

Silvana Bartoletto

This illuminating book analyses energy transitions, carbon dioxide emissions and the security of energy supply in Mediterranean countries. Unpacking the history of energy transitions, from coal to oil and natural gas, and from non-renewable to renewable energy sources, Silvana Bartoletto offers a comparative approach to the major trends in energy consumption, production, trade and security in Mediterranean countries in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.