Energy Policy and Third World Development

By Pradip K. Ghosh | Go to book overview

Energy in the 2000's: What Happens to the Have Nots?

P. B. BAXENDELL

Since the days of the first "oil crisis" in 1973 many people including myself, have had a great deal to say about the world's energy problems. Everyone, is I believe, now well aware that oil instead of being the ever-abundant and very cheap commodity that it was in the Fifties Sixties and early Seventies, has become both highly priced and in short supply. This has occurred not for reasons of technical availability, but for political, social and economic reasons with which most people are now familiar. Nevertheless the price of oil in real terms has risen by a factor of around 12 over the last ten years, and the economic balance of the world's energy alternatives has been disturbed. It will take time to regain equilibrium and establish new energy availabilities. Bear in mind that the time required to develop new energy projects, be they coal, nuclear, tar sands or non-OPEC oil developments, is between seven and twelve years from inception. Consequently, unless world economic performance is very dismal, and demand consequently low, the industrialised nations are, I believe, faced with a situaton of energy constraint throughout the 1980s. But, thereafter, these nations should be able to look ahead to a potential proliferation of energy alternatives in the 1990s; always provided that the right policies are set in train in time (which is a very big proviso!).

I don't want to talk today about this general scenario. What concerns me, and what I would like to talk about now, is the somewhat longer term, say the end of this century and into the next. For I believe that there is a real danger that what we will see is a situation developing where the industrialised countries of the world will solve their energy problems, albeit at high cost, but that the lesser developed countries, largely because of their economic deficiencies and population growth, will not be able to

____________________
From DEVELOPMENT: SEEDS OF CHANGE, 1981:2 (55-62), reprinted by permission of the publisher, Society for International Development, Rome.

-78-

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