Conclusions Transitions Governance and Appraisal

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Ivan Scrase, Dierk Bauknecht, Florian Kern, Markku Lehtonen, Gordon MacKerron, Mari Martiskainen, Francis McGowan, David Ockwell, Raphael Sauter, Adrian Smith, Steve Sorrell, Tao Wang and Jim Watson

Around the world energy policy is becoming more politically heated. An interrelated set of factors explains this: new scientific findings about climate change and its likely consequences; rising energy prices; controversy about nuclear ambitions; fears about the security of fossil fuel supplies relating to short-term geopolitical instabilities; rapid demand growth in countries such as China and India; the prospect of declining total world oil production, and its consequences for fossil fuel prices and energy security in coming decades; and international tensions around all of these issues.

In wealthy democracies energy markets are increasingly competitive, which tends to drive down costs and fuel economic growth, and can contribute to energy security. However, in liberalised markets governments are less able to direct change in their energy systems, becoming more reliant on networks of civil servants, businesses, civil society organisations and individuals to achieve policy goals. Moreover, in countries with strong democratic traditions, constituents simply will not accept governments imposing authoritarian measures to reduce carbon emissions.

Tackling climate change must become the overriding goal for OECD countries, and reducing fossil fuel use the principal means for its achievement. Agreement that action is needed is growing, and great numbers of people are keen to invest, organise and co-operate in support of tackling climate change. All too often, however, policy frameworks designed for other ends obstruct their efforts. Yet the other concerns mentioned above cannot be neglected: climate policy demands sophisticated, effective and democratically legitimate energy policies. Low carbon technologies will inevitably be needed in this. However, they must be introduced as part of much broader transitions in energy systems, in energy users' behaviour, and in the institutions, policies and processes of government.

Energy for the Future's conclusions are reviewed and analysed here under three headings: 'transitions' (Section 13.1), 'governance' (13.2) and 'appraisal' (13.3). Under the theme of transitions conclusions are drawn regarding changes needed in three areas: (i) energy systems, (ii) energy technologies and (iii) energy use and supply. Three areas of governance concern are then addressed: (i) broad approaches to the processes of governing, for example how democratic or 'interventionist' governments should be, (ii) market, regulatory and deliberative modes of governing, including issues of participation and institutional change and (iii) energy policy instruments appropriate to the approaches discussed. Conclusions are then reached relating to three forms of appraisal: (i) energy system level appraisals, and how governments might improve their capacities to steer system level change, (ii) appraisal and evaluation of energy policies and (iii) appraisal of specific energy technologies.

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