"Non-Traditional Security: Energy and the Diffusion of Normas in EU-China Relations"

Non-traditional Security:
Energy and the Diffusion of Norms in EU-China Relations
Alfonso MARTÍNEZ ARRANZ – Monash University
May-Britt U. STUMBAUM – Freie Universität Berlin
The paper analyses the diffusion of norms from the EU to China on energy-related issues within the
overall framework of European security policy. Energy has a direct impact on all factors of the
“comprehensive security” concept that underpins EU security policies. Our two case studies—in
transport and electricity generation—analyse if and how the EU has been able to promote (or more
passively: inspire) norms in energy, notably through its environmental policy spilling over to energy
policy. The paper concludes by pointing out areas of action for future policy initiatives in the security
Energy-related security issues can be socio-economic, socio-environmental and military/political.
Socio-economic issues are related to supply and demand, which determine prices and thereby affect
the standard of living; i.e. the common definition of “energy security”. In turn, socio-environmental
issues refer to the impacts of energy extraction and use, ranging from local pollution issues to global
climate change. Military force or political sanctions have often been used to directly prevent access
to or sale of an energy resource (cf. Iran). Climate change, while in origin a socio-environmental
issue, is a threat multiplier. It affects worldwide food production, energy consumption patterns and
disaster frequency. Thus, it has the potential to disrupt entire societies and jeopardise global
security as a result, leading among other consequences to mass migrations and destabilisation of
regions. The reception of norm diffusion affecting each of these elements can be, in order of impact:
rejection, lesson-drawing, adaptation and adoption.
In our first case study on transport fuels, EU norms have had a small positive effect on both the
socio-economic and socio-environmental dimensions. China has adopted European fuel efficiency
and emissions standards, albeit at a slower pace. It has also expanded efficiency measures to
heavy-duty vehicles, thus going beyond European norms. However, the effects of this norm diffusion
are swamped by the massive increase in Chinese transport volumes, which is further aggravated by
the rejection of the norm on high fuel taxes. Future security discussions may need to revolve around
the benefits of restraining growth in transport volumes both from socio-economic and traditional
military perspectives. In addition, it may be advisable to replace the unsuccessful biofuel targets
(also adapted by China), which threatens even traditional security concerns through the
water-energy-food nexus.
In electricity generation, we analysed renewable energy promotion, nuclear power development
and carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration. Again, the overall effect is positive, largely
thanks to the successful Chinese adoption of the feed-in-tariffs for the promotion of renewable
energy technologies. This has helped to level off China’s emissions and reduce its coal consumption
(and imports). China has also adapted the norm that CCS needs to be demonstrated immediately to
a slower approach. China’s adaptation seems to increase security in its on right, as currently the
technology involves high cost and increased resource consumption. Finally, the nuclear policy field
has seen a rejection of many diverse norms emanating from the EU (total phase out / decrease
dependency / increase but slowly), with the diversity being part of the explanation for the rejection.
Overall, the combined effects in these areas show the positive influence that the EU has had on
energy-related security issues in China, thereby ameliorating its own security situation in energy
fields. The paper shows that the EU’s strong normative position on environmental questions helps to
address non-traditional security issues in the energy field.