WEC rankings offer a guideline for environmental sustainability

Posted on 16 October 2013

The WEC’s Energy Sustainability Index serves as a benchmark for nations in implementing their energy policies.

The World Energy Council has graded 129 countries with A through D scores based on three criteria reflecting the “Energy Trilemma”: security, equity, and environmental sustainability. Only 5 countries received the highest score, the AAA. For developed countries, achieving a high score is significantly easier compared to those in the developing world. However, the Energy Sustainability Index can help all nations improve their energy strategies and acts as a guideline for responsible policy implementation.

With over 40,000 buildings crammed into 1,100 square-kilometers of real estate, Hong Kong is an “extreme case of high density” population that “cannot tolerate blackouts,” said Christine Loh, Hong Kong’s Secretary for the Environment. The implementation of a successful energy policy is a high priority for the Chinese special administrative zone, she explained. Loh noted that every country strives to place high in global rankings and the Energy Sustainability Index is not different. “It fuses three important issues, to do well we need government policy-making to be better,” she said. The lawmaker says it’s difficult to bring together multiple branches of any government, even in a city the size of Hong Kong. She believes the “objective” rankings of the WEC compel her government to “not take energy for granted.”

For Alistair Buchanan, KPMG’s Partner & Chairman of the UK Power and Utilities Practice, energy policies the country has implemented compliment the standards of the index and address the concerns of the Trilemma. He notes that for countries that live up to the framework of the Energy Sustainability Index, they will “attract vital investments that will bring jobs and innovations” to their economy. But he noted that for many European countries and beyond “hurdles are rising against achieving a AAA score” due to national and regional shortages and unregulated energy markets. Buchanan said the first part of the Trilemma to fall to the wayside is environmental sustainability as countries attempt to stabilize prices and secure their energy supply.

For developing economies, balancing an environmentally sustainable energy policy and the myriad of other domestic needs is hard to accomplish. In India, where 450 million people live without reliable access to electricity, it’s “a major challenge,” said B. Prasada Rao, Chairman & Managing Director of Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL). The costs of implementing standards like those of the Energy Sustainability Index can “adversely affect the country’s competitiveness,” he added. But Rao acknowledged that those goals are something to be strived for and will ultimately benefit economic growth.

 

This news story is based on the session What Does It Take?, “National energy policy: Achieving a triple ‘A’ score”, at the 2013 World Energy Congress.