Energy sector reform

Ian Cronshaw works with the governments of major economies to devise policy for coal, gas and electricity markets

Picture of a turbine


Following successive oil crises in the 1970s, the reliability, affordability and environmental consequences of energy supply have been at the heart of major policy issues globally. The outcomes of the Paris Conference of the Parties in December 2015 underlined that any durable solution to climate change issues must be driven by major changes to energy demand and supply. Such changes must begin with rapid decarbonisation of global electricity supply and extend across all components of an energy sector and account for infrastructure that can endure for decades.

The other key energy challenge is that one in six of the world’s population have no access to modern electricity supplies and more than twice that number lack access to clean cooking facilities that exposes them to dangerous indoor air pollution. Bringing affordable, secure and safe energy to the energy deprived, however, is complicated by the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to help mitigate climate change.

Energy security and affordability are never far from policy makers’ minds, even when short-term price falls brought some relief from high energy prices in 2015 and 2016. The resultant rapid and deep collapse in energy related supply and infrastructure investment seems likely to re-generate price and energy security problems over the medium term. In the energy industry, resource depletion means ‘running fast just to stand still’, even when prices seem low and supplies abundant.

In sum, energy policy issues cannot be effectively addressed in the absence of sustained global action. Key environmental issues are global in scope, and energy markets are globally integrated or integrating at a rapid rate.

Policy Engagement

Ian’s energy policy experience dates from the 1970s, addressing within the Australian Government issues such as pricing and taxation of Australian oil and gas production, building energy research and development capacity, and synthetic fuel policy. In the 1980s and 1990s he worked on resource rent taxation, and energy efficiency policy, including leading a Task Force that extended petroleum rent taxation to Bass Strait oil fields, a key factor in prolonging their life well into the 21st century. Ian also participated in a number of White Paper processes, including that of Prime Minister Howard in 2004, which resulted in major commitments on energy security, energy efficiency and climate policy. He worked on a number of energy policy initiatives related to climate change, including the Australian Government policy package taken to Kyoto in 1997, which launched the National Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, and major energy efficiency programs.

In the last decade, Ian has worked at the International Energy Agency, heading their work on gas, coal and power markets, including instigating and executing the Agency’s work on medium term outlooks in those sectors. He has worked on the last 12 World Energy Outlooks, the IEA’s flagship annual publication that provides the benchmark for forward looking analysis in the global energy sector, projecting trends based on in-depth analysis of government policies and programs. His work has covered gas, coal and electricity, but also energy security and availability.

He has been a major contributor to reviews of energy policies in a wide range of countries including Japan, the United States, Ukraine, Turkey and the landmark review of the European Union. He has briefed senior officials of all IEA Member Governments on energy issues, chiefly on global medium term developments in global gas, coal and power markets, and the implications of Russian gas supply interruptions in 2006 and 2009. Ian has travelled extensively to both IEA member and non-member countries, including China and Russia, including advice to the Chinese Government on the 12th Five Year Plan for energy. More recently, he has collaborated on a major publication addressing global approaches to the regulation of unconventional hydrocarbon production.

Policy Outcomes

To any energy policy issue, Ian brings more than 40 years of practical experience, analysing issues, and devising and implementing practical policy options for Government. He backs this with more than 10 years at the International Energy Agency, with its incomparable global approach to energy issues, be they security, availability or environmental in nature, or indeed, as is almost always the case, an inseparable combination of all these factors.

Ian is Consultant to the Office of the Chief Economist and former Head of the Energy Diversification Division at the International Energy Agency.

Find out more about Ian's work and research affiliations:

International Energy Agency

Read more about the Fellows of the Economics & Science Group

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