International Efforts on Energy Efficiency

The link between EE and pollution reduction has been discussed repeatedly in international treaties. The reasons for international support of EE are not limited to air pollution reduction. They also include a desire to reduce dependence on foreign oil supplies via using less imported fuels8 and sustainable economic development. The Council of Europe recognized in 1970 that 'improvements of the thermal insulation of buildings, (...) results in a significant reduction of fuel consumption'.9 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Environmental Guidelines from 1974 added that '(...) establishment of regulations and higher standards for improved thermal insulation of new buildings' was a useful method to increase efficiency.10 In addition, '(...) more efficient use of fuels was useful to reduce air pollution'.11 These views have subsequently been memorialized in the 1988 Sophia Protocol,12 the 1994 Sulphur Protocol13 and the 1999 Gothenburg Protocol14 under which the signatories all agree to undertake measures to increase energy efficiency as energy savings usually results in a reduction in sulphur emissions.15 Such early calls for improved energy efficiency coincided with the energy crisis of the 1970s and the political crisis

8 Anon 1980.

9 Council of Europe Committee of Ministers. 1970.

10 OECD. 1974.

12 UNECE-Sophia Protocol. 1988.

13 UNECE-Oslo Protocol. 1994. Article 2 (4).

14 UNECE-Gothenburg Protocol. 1999. Article 6 (1)(c). Available online at http://www. protocol/99multi_a4.htm

15 UNECE-Oslo Protocol. 1994. Annex IV. Control Technologies For Sulphur Emissions From Stationary Sources. Paragraph 9.

at the end of that decade, where a number of countries tried to reduce their dependence on oil from the Middle East.16 The G7 endorsed this goal at the 1980 Venice Summit, stipulating that:

Our objective is the introduction of increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles... We will accelerate this process, where appropriate, by arrangements or standards for improved automobile fuel efficiency, by gasoline pricing and taxation decisions, by research and development and by making public transport more attractive.17

Another protocol, the International Energy Efficiency Financing Protocol (IEEFP) provides guidelines for local financing institutions (LFIs) around the world to evaluate and finance energy efficiency and savings-based renewable projects. The IEEFP is a long-term 'grass roots' solution to financing Energy Savings Projects. It is envisioned that the IEEFP will ultimately become the global 'blue print' for educating and training LFIs around the world on the special intricacies and benefits of financing energy savings projects. The IEEFP's objective is to create a better understanding by LFIs and other global stakeholders on how Energy Savings generate savings from existing operating expenses of end-use consumers, and how this equates to new cash flow and increased credit capacity for end-use consumers to repay Energy Efficiency Financing Protocol (EEFP) loans.18

The other forum in which energy efficiency figures prominently in international law is the issue of climate change. The issue first appeared at the international level in 1989 when the G7 argued that in terms of reducing GHGs: '(...) energy efficiency could make a substantial contribution towards these goals'.19 The importance of investments in energy efficiency was noted later by them in 1994.20 In 1999, they announced their intention to

16 In 1972, before the Arab oil embargo, the total cost of US oil imports was only USD 5 billion. By 1980, this had risen to USD 80 billion and was coinciding with the political uncertainty associated with the Iranian revolution. The 1980 G7 Venice Communique clearly expressed this when they stipulated that: 'We must rely on fuels other than oil to meet the energy needs of future economic growth' (G7 Venice Summit 1980).

17 Ibid.

18 IPMVP. 2007.

19 G7 Paris Summit. 1989.

20 G7 Naples Summit 1994.

reduce GHG emissions through: '(...) rational and efficient use of energy and through other cost-effective means'.21

The more forceful pronouncements on energy efficiency have come from Agenda 21 and the regime established under the UNFCCC. Agenda 21, adopted by more than 178 countries at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 1992, establishes a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally in areas where humans impact the environment. With respect to energy efficiency, Agenda 2122 calls upon governments to '(...) encourage industry to increase and strengthen its capacity to develop technologies, products and processes that are safe, less polluting and make more efficient use of all resources and materials, including energy'.23 It also states that the signatories '(...) support the promotion of less polluting and more efficient technologies and processes in industries, taking into account area-specific accessible potentials for energy, particularly safe and renewable sources of energy, with a view to limiting industrial pollution and adverse impacts on the atmosphere'.24

The UNFCCC includes several policy pronouncements in support of energy efficiency. The preamble to the UNFCCC highlights the importance of assisting developing countries in '(...) achieving greater energy efficiency and for controlling GHG emissions in general, including through the application of new technologies on terms which make such an application economically and socially beneficial.' 25 The Kyoto Protocol elaborates on the importance of energy efficiency, recommending that developed countries should pursue PAMs, such as, inter alia: '(...) enhancement of energy efficiency in relevant sectors of the national economy'.26

Subsequent decisions by the Council of Parties (COP)27 to the UNFCCC have emphasized the importance of energy efficiency, too, as a mechanism for combating climate change. In Bonn, Germany in July 2001,28 the COP reiterated at its sixth meeting that all market imperfections hindering the transfer of EETs to developing countries should be removed, especially for

21 G8 Koln Summit. 1999. Paragraph 33.

25 UNFCCC. Preamble. Paragraph 22.

27 The COP and overall institutional framework of the UNFCCC is discussed infra.

28 UNFCCC. 2001.

the least developed countries (LDCs) and the most vulnerable countries.29 The Buenos Aires and Bonn meetings of the COP culminated in the agreement by the 7th COP of the Marrakech Accords in Marrakech, Morocco, in December 2001 (discussed in the following sections).30 The 10 th COP focused on the post-2012 carbon reduction targets and on bringing developing countries into the process. It calls for both existing and new technologies to enable a more efficient and less carbon-intensive use of energy. The Twelfth COP (Nairobi, 6-17 November 2006) welcomed initiatives, such as the Nairobi Framework presented by the UN Secretary-General and the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF) established by the Commission.

The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) also prominently featured energy efficiency. The parties to the World Summit reconfirmed the principles of Agenda 21 from a decade earlier. In addition to the general support for the development of energy efficiency, the participants agreed to:

Integrate energy consideration, including energy efficiency (...) especially into policies of major energy-consuming sectors, and into the planning, operation and maintenance of long-lived energy consuming infrastructures, such as the public sector, transport, industry, agriculture, urban land use, tourism and construction sectors.31

The signatories also agreed to:

Establish domestic programmes for energy efficiency, including, as appropriate, by accelerating the deployment of energy efficiency technologies, with the necessary support of the international community.32

Several United Nations agencies have also embraced the goals of energy efficiency and its promotion, including the World Bank33 and the Global

29 UNFCCC. 2001.

30 UNFCCC. 2002a, 2002b.

31 WSSD. 2002. Paragraph 19 (b). (Note, the paragraph was agreed prior to the final document, and was not subject to change.)

Environmental Facility (GEF).34 The G8 urged the GEF to continue to support projects with energy efficiency in 2001.35 The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development further reiterated the linkage of the GEF in this area.36 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an association of leading scientists advising the UNFCCC on climate change science, asserted that promoting the development and implementation of national and international energy efficiency standards was a low cost or cost-effective way to combat global warming.37

The 1996 ECT and its accompanying Energy Charter Protocol on Energy Efficiency and Related Environmental Aspects (PEEREA) are particularly noteworthy for their specific and detailed treatment of energy efficiency.38 The Energy Charter primarily is an international trade agreement, but it includes provisions, too, obligating signatories to implement domestic policy and measures to improve energy efficiency and calls for international cooperation on such matters (Energy Charter, Part IV, Art. 19). The ECT and Protocol can help promote information exchange and capacity building, particularly for economies in transition (EIT). Further, it explicitly recognizes the linkage between energy efficiency and sustainable economic

35 G8 Genoa Summit. 2001. Paragraph 27.

36 WSSD. 2002. Paragraph 19 (n). This was agreed prior to the summit, and not subject to change.

37 IPCC. 2006.

38 Available online at htm. See also YBIEL 7. 1996, 173—174. Together with the Energy Charter Treaty, the Energy Charter Protocol on Energy Efficiency and Related Environmental Aspects was adopted on 17 December 1994, at Lisbon, Portugal, as Annex 3 to the Final Act of the European Energy Charter Conference. Members of the Energy Charter Conference include Albania, Armenia, Austria, Australia*, Azerbaijan, Belarus*, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, European Communities, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland*, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Mongolia, Netherlands, Norway*, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation*, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, United Kingdom. (Ratification of the Energy Charter Treaty is still pending as of January 2003 for countries marked with an asterisk.) Observers to the Energy Charter Conference include Algeria, Bahrain, People's Republic of China, Canada, Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Venezuela and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. See 'What is the Energy Charter? An Introductory Guide,' Energy Charter Secretariat, January 2003. Available online at

development. Towards this end, it seeks to promote energy efficiency as a means of economic development independent of any GHG or air pollution reduction benefits. In addition, the Energy Charter adopts several other key principles of international environmental law, including the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle.39

The accompanying PEEREA elaborates on some of the principles set forth in the ECT. The PEEREA contains a comprehensive list of policies, regulatory frameworks and activities that signatories may implement at the domestic level to improve energy efficiency.40 One particularly noteworthy principle embodied in PEEREA is the concept that energy efficiency '(...) can itself amount to an energy resource'.41 This explicit recognition of energy efficiency as a resource alternative could be interpreted as opening the door in the international law context to the introduction of planning concepts such as demand-side management and integrated resource planning.42 These planning principles have been used by many countries in the domestic regulatory context to provide an alternative, more comprehensive framework for making energy resource acquisition decisions than solely focusing on supply-side acquisition. The PEEREA is also noteworthy in that it adopts the concept of life cycle analysis in its definition of an 'Energy Cycle'43 and encourages parties to minimize environmental impacts across that entire energy cycle. Furthermore, it explicitly recognizes the need for a

39 Bradbrook 1997b. Energy Charter Treaty, Art. 19(1).

40 PEEREA 2008. Art. 3(2) and 8(2). These domestic policies may include, inter alia, (a) development of long-term energy demand and supply scenarios to guide decision making; assessment of the energy, environmental and economic impact of actions taken; definition of standards designed to improve the efficiency of energy using equipment, and efforts to harmonize these internationally to avoid trade distortions; development and encouragement of private initiative and industrial cooperation, including joint ventures; promotion of the use of the most energy-efficient technologies that are economically viable and environmentally sound; encouragement of innovative approaches for investments in energy efficiency improvements; development of appropriate energy balances and data bases; promotion of the creation of advisory and consultancy services which may be operated by public or private industry or utilities and which provide information about energy efficiency programmes and technologies, and assist consumers and enterprises; support and promotion of cogeneration and of measures to increase the efficiency of district heat production and distribution systems to buildings and industry.

42 Bradbrook 1997a.

43 'Energy Cycle' is defined in the PEEREA as 'the entire energy chain, including activities related to prospecting for, exploration, production, conversion, storage, transport, distribution and consumption of the various forms of energy, and the treatment and disposal of wastes, as well as the decommissioning, cessation or closure of these activities, minimizing harmful Environmental Impacts' (PEEREA 2008. Art. 19(3)(a)).

public policy response to promote energy efficiency, implicitly rejecting the argument that international trade and competition will, by themselves, lead to optimal levels of energy efficiency investment.44

However, the ECT and accompanying PEEREA are written using such amorphous and non-binding language as to preclude effective enforcement or compliance monitoring.45 Unlike the UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol and LRTAP that include numerical goals, the ECT and PEEREA do not establish any concrete goals or outcomes for signatory countries to meet. Further, the tentative wording of the provisions leaves little opportunity for international enforcement or compliance monitoring, leading one commenter to characterize the Treaty as a '(...) hesitant first step in the environmental goal of promoting energy efficiency in the international law


The European Union (EU) has also taken several steps to improve energy efficiency among its member countries, but with mixed success. In 1992, the European Commission (EC) announced that by 1994, manufactures and importers of a wide range of household appliances sold in the EC would have to supply prospective customers with information on the product's energy consumption. As originally proposed, labels of energy consumption would have been required for refrigerators and freezers, washers and dryers, dishwashers, ovens, water heaters, lights and air conditioning units.47 However, these goals were not achieved and the commission was forced to replace the seven proposed directives with just one, stating the community should aim for improvements in all seven areas, but setting no standards, time limits, reporting requirements or minimal goals.48 By 1995, the only legal standards adopted were for refrigerators and boilers. At this point, the EU began finalizing its SAVE II programme, a Union-wide programme dedicated exclusively to promoting energy efficiency and encouraging energy saving behaviour in industry, commerce and the domestic sector as well as in transport through policy measures, information, studies and pilot actions, and the creation of local and regional energy management agencies. This shifted the EU's focus from legal standards for energy efficiency to aid to regions with energy savings programmes.49 Many within the EU

44 Bradbrook 1997a.

45 Ibid.

46 Ibid.

48 D. MacKenzie. 1992. YBIEL 4 1993, 144.

49 Anon 1995. YBIEL 6 1995, 201.

have strongly advocated for improvements in the fuel efficiencies of motor vehicles, and in some key countries (such as the UK)50 in particular. Here, it was proposed, and supported by voluntary initiatives from the motor-vehicle industry,51 that by 2008, fuel efficiency in the EU should be increased by 40 per cent.52 The EC has set detailed targets with the aim of developing action in the area of energy and environment policy introducing measures to ensure the long-term improvement of EE, through the use of market forces and new technologies. The Commission has proposed a new 'Action Plan for energy efficiency' in October 2006 aimed at achieving energy savings of 20 per cent by 2020.53 Virtually absent from international discussions of EE are coordinated efforts at consumer labelling schemes on EE, notwithstanding its strong linkage to international trade and commerce. Clearly labelled appliances, correctly specifying EE information help concerned consumers make informed choices on energy efficiency and use.54 Agenda 21 stipulates that it is necessary to '(...) establish or enhance, as appropriate, in cooperation with the private sector, labelling programmes for products to provide decision makers and consumers with information on opportunities for energy efficiency'.55 Despite the potential merits of this approach, there are no international law relating to the labelling of products or processes with regard to energy efficiency. Rather, this is dealt with in typically domestic and sometimes regional settings.56

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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