Assessment of Energy Policy and Practices
The crucial topics of global energy production and consumption have received a vast amount of much-needed attention in the past several years. Scholarly and professional studies abound and the work of organisations such as the IPCC has made us fully aware of the global threat of climate disruption. Given this important and ever-growing body of work, the world community stands well-equipped to evaluate the state of the energy landscape and to identify what actions need to be undertaken.
Energy is one of the most important levers in human development, and, as such, acts as a key factor in determining the economic development of all countries. It is clear that the growth in global demand for energy has played a key role in causing prices to rise dramatically. We also know that this rise in demand has led to a 25% increase in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990 and that biodiversity, water and air quality are at risk. In addition, the inequality within and across countries between those who have access to energy and those who do not is on the increase.
Thus, the key issue confronting us today is no longer where we stand or where we might be heading, but rather how to devise the best solutions to these problems in a highly-complex global arena involving multiple stakeholders: governments and citizens of course, but also NGOs, scientists, academics and industrialists.
Faced with the economic, social and environmental stakes that are at play regarding energy provision, we already possess the technical and industrial means to more effectively exploit fossil-fuel reserves, to develop competitive carbon-free production, and to improve energy efficiency, for instance regarding housing and transportation. We can also be comforted by the fact that promising new technologies are in development.
Yet, all of these routes involve major investments that will only be possible in a favourable institutional environment in which all decision makers are well-informed and empowered to act, and in which the "acceptability challenge" can be overcome by fostering public awareness and debate. It has thus become increasingly clear that well-researched and effective public policies are critical for the future. The aim of sound public policies should be to lead to investment in appropriate technology and help to enact regulatory measures, acceptable to all stakeholders, which reconcile economic growth and environmental protection. Appropriate public policies also provide the only means to a future in which economic growth can take place alongside an actual reduction in inequality in individual countries as well as globally.
Due to this pressing need for effective public policies, the World Energy Council (WEC) has decided to launch a comprehensive comparative study that takes into account broader national frameworks. The study will analyse economic and institutional circumstances of clusters of countries with similar profiles and measure their energy, social and environmental capacities.
This paper, presenting WEC's Assessment of Energy Policy and Practices, represents a first step in an on-going, multi-year study exploring which kinds of public policies will best serve particular countries. It is our hope that this initiative will foster a large-scale exchange of ideas among the main stakeholders governing public policy, NGOs, and citizens with the aim of facilitating the best solutions to meeting each country's energy needs.
Our goal is to produce studies that will lead to concrete action.
Pierre Gadonneix, Chair World Energy Council