TFR 6 – Energy: A Strategy for International Action


The international energy crisis presents a range of challenges to the Trilateral countries. Their response has been weak and inadequate, the task force concludes, and it recommends a broad program of action.

The report concentrates on three major problem areas, along with energy policy itself. One is relations with oil-exporters, especially those in the Middle East. How is the adjustment to be made between vital consumer interests and the exercise by the producers of their new "oil power"? Second are the strains induced and intensified among Trilateral countries themselves. The oil embargo and sharp rise in oil prices have tended so far to divide the three regions, and Western Europe within itself. Third are serious problems of internal adjustment and stress that lie ahead for the Trilateral countries in facing the societal implications of the crisis. These three sets of problems are interrelated. Trilateral solidarity, for instance, is affected by the approaches chosen to the oil-exporters and by the success of governments in handling domestic strains.

The task force recommends a broad, positive approach to the oil exporters, without isolating the issue of price. The Trilateral countries should seek common and reciprocal interests with the exporters going far beyond oil, interests which can be furthered by cooperation in a variety of forms, bilateral and multilateral. It is suggested that the Trilateral Commission itself set up an expert group to seek unofficial discussions with OPEC representatives on a whole range of relevant issues. The oil issue in the Middle East cannot be separated from the Arab Israeli conflict. The task force emphasizes the need for an early settlement and for an agreed North American-European-Japanese approach. In fact, Trilateral ideas on the general terms of a settlement are not widely different, based on the principle of non-acquisition of territory by force and the right of all states to secure existence.

While seeking positive relationships with the producers, the Trilateral countries must themselves cooperate to maintain their financial health in the face of existing oil prices and to establish arrangements for sharing energy in any future emergency resulting from cutoffs of Arab oil supplies. The task force applauds the emergency sharing plan proposed by the Energy Coordinating Group and recommends acceptance of this plan by all Trilateral countries.

For the medium term, through 1985, the Trilateral countries must start now to work toward reductions of their dependence on uncertain external energy sources. This requires action for both conservation and increased supplies. On conservation, the task force recommends that the annual rate of increase in energy consumption over the next decade be held below 2 percent in North America, 3 percent in Europe, and 4 percent in Japan. This is a substantial reduction from rates of increase prevailing before 1973. On increasing secure supplies, the task force sees the most immediate increases coming primarily from intensified production within the Trilateral community from known reserves of fossil fuels. The task force recommends that policy decisions on North Sea oil and gas development be taken on a European basis, and that Canada and the United States take Japanese and European needs into account in development of their own rich fossil fuel sources. If the solidarity and cooperation of the Trilateral countries is necessary and desirable for reducing dependence on OPEC, for emergency sharing, and for coping with high oil prices, then it should be valid as well for the development of known resources, whatever their location, within the Trilateral area.

For the much longer term, to the end of this century, the Trilateral countries should move now to outline cooperative energy research and development efforts, anticipating the end of the hydrocarbon age.

While not pessimistic about the long-term future, the task force sees a transitional period of extraordinary difficulty and adjustment ahead as Trilateral societies adapt to insecure, expensive, perhaps reduced energy supplies, and to slower economic growth. It is a real question whether the necessary sacrifices will in fact be accepted by powerful elements in the body politic. In such cases, there is instability whether a government tries to face the crisis or to avoid it. Countries must remain sensitive to each other's problems and agree on sharing burdens and shortages. The task force emphasizes the value of the O.E.C.D. and the International Energy Agency as structures for international cooperation.

The central thrust of this report is toward an agreed long-term energy strategy for the Trilateral countries. The specific recommendations are intended to give substance to that strategy and ensure its success.


John C. Campbell, Senior Research Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
Guy de Carmoy, Professor, European Institute of Business Administration, Fontainbleau
Shinichi Kondo, former Ambassador of Japan to Canada

Table of Contents

Summary of the Report
I. Dimensions of the Problem
A. The Time Dimension
B. Emergence of a Powerful New Actor
C. The Impact of High Oil Prices
D. The Middle East Situation
E. Intra-European Relations
F. European-American Relations
G. Japanese-American Relations
II. The Response to the Problem
A. North America
B. Western Europe
C. Japan
D. International Action
III. The Need for New Approaches: A Long-Term Strategy
A. Growth and Level of Demand
B. Efficiency of Use
C. Development of Additional Energy
D. Reduction of Dependence on Outside Energy
E. Emergency Sharing
F. Cooperation in Research
G. The Financial Burden
H. Avoidance of Nationalistic Measures
IV. Relations with Oil-Producing Countries
A. The Arab-Israeli Conflict
B. Common Interests in Security
C. National Development Programs
D. Negotiations on the Supply and Price of Oil
E. Investment of Oil Money Outside the Producing Countries
F. A Larger Role in World Affairs
G. Special Relationships
V. Development of Energy in the Trilateral Region
VI. Social and Political Change
VII. Conclusions

A. A Long-Term Strategy
B. Institutions to Make ft Work
C. Internal Goals
D. External Goals
E. The Need for Unity

  • Topics: Energy, Multilateral Cooperation
  • Region:  North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Pacific Asia
  • Publisher:  The Trilateral Commission
  • Publication Date:  © 1974
  • ISBN:  0-930503-57-0
  • Pages:  48
  • Complete Text: Click here to download