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Prof. Tibisay Morgandi outlines the role of international law in securing energy supply

Harvard Professor Joseph Aldy stresses the importance of evaluating clean energy initiatives during EENR Center speaker series

December 15, 2021 - When it comes to preserving energy security, Professor Tibisay Morgandi of Queen Mary University of London School of Law argued that international law is vital in ensuring we do not face a global energy crisis. She spoke during a lecture hosted by the University of Houston Law Center's Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Center. The presentation is part of the Energy Transition and Climate Governance series, sponsored by the European Union through its Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant and the efforts of UH EENR Fellow (and Universite de Lyon III professor) Aubin Nzaou.

Morgandi, a public international lawyer specializing in international energy law, began her presentation by defining energy security, which is the uninterrupted availability of energy resources at an affordable price.

“Energy security is a significant issue faced by humanity,” she said. “We cannot live without having access to energy.”

Morgandi said international law is fundamental because it will enhance and facilitate the supply of energy. She further discussed short-term and long-term energy security, emphasizing that relying on fossil fuels is not sustainable.

In the long term, international law plays a role in protecting foreign investment and building infrastructure as well as guaranteeing trade in energy services and free transit of energy. Morgandi said there needs to be a system in place that promotes imports and exports of energy resources. She also specifically referenced Germany’s investment in nuclear energy and the subsequent response to the Fukushima disaster as an example of the shortcoming of investment law.

When it comes to the short term, Morgandi said international law helps establish

rules prohibiting states from intentionally interrupting energy supply and institutes mechanisms to respond to emergencies from unintentional interruptions. Some examples of the latter could be environmental disasters or third-party interferences, such as cyber-attacks.

During the question-and-answer period, topics included the role of regional organizations in ensuring energy security as well as potential military responses to the interruption of energy.

“Every region is different and it’s important to understand the specifics of each context,” Morgandi said.

She concluded by reiterating the importance of looking at the big picture when it comes to climate change and energy security for all.

“We can’t forget that we also need to take a very international approach.”

Morgandi is a lecturer in international energy and natural resources law. She was also previously a Swiss National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cambridge and has consulted for the European Commission, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, Chatham House and Client Earth.

The next speaker in the series is Professor Michael Livermore of the University of Virginia School of Law, who will deliver remarks at 9 a.m. CT on Jan. 20. Prior speakers in the webinar

series are Professor Robert Percival of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, Professor Joseph Aldy of Harvard University, Professor William Burns of American University, Professor Lisa Benjamin of the Lewis & Clark Law School, Professor Rebecca Bratspies of the City University of New York School of Law, Professor Uma Outka of the University of Kansas School of Law, Professor Joshua Galperin of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Professor Alexandra Klass of University of Minnesota Law School, Professor Lee Paddock of the George Washington University School of Law and Professor Roy Partain of the University of Aberdeen School of Law.

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