INFORSE-Europe        International Network for Sustainable Energy

Facebook INFORSE Facebook INFORSE-Europe CAUSE: 100% RE INFORSE Twitter


INFORSE-Europe logo

<< BACK to Seminars' page
<< BACK to Seminar 2001
proceeding front page


Proceeding of the Pan-European Sustainable Energy NGO Seminar - INFORSE-Europe September, 2001, Denmark

<< See photo of lecturers
<< See group photo at OVE
<< See group photo wind

Pan-European Energy Efficiency - Problems and Visions

By Gunnar Boye Olesen, co-ordinator of the European ECO-forum Energy & Climate Group

Pan-European cooperation for energy efficiency should develop from the current exchange of information between governmental experts combined with scattered activities by EBRD and technical assistance programs. It should develop into cooperation that is useful for a larger public and that really improve the framework for energy efficiency throughout Europe, including former Soviet Republics. The same is true for the potential cooperation on renewable energy.

At the environment ministers meeting in Århus, Denmark, 1998 (Arhus98) the ministers welcomed a “Guideline on energy conservation in Europe” with a number of recommendations for national activities and international co-operation on energy conservation. In the ministerial declaration adopted at Arhus98 was also agreed a number of issues for cooperation, including phase-out of environmentally harmful energy subsidies before 2005, and a request to the World Bank, EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) to give a priority for energy efficiency. Similar agreements have been reached at other international meetings, e.g. OECD, UN-ECE.

Unfortunately the ministerial agreements have not been followed up by much actual cooperation. The decisions from Arhus98 are in principle followed-up by the Energy Efficiency Working Group of the Energy Charter, a group that has as its main task to implement the Energy Charter’s protocol on energy efficiency and related environmental aspects. This protocol has a long list of proposals for cooperation on energy efficiency, but the only binding commitments of the countries are that they shall make reviews of their energy efficiency policies. The working group is busy to get these reviews finished. It is also a forum for exchange of information on energy efficiency among its members. It has not worked on many of the proposals for international cooperation from Arhus98 or from its own protocol.

To improve the Pan-European co-operation on energy efficiency, a new impulse is needed, in addition to the follow-up from Arhus98. This could be a proposal from the NGOs, pushed by national NGOs in several countries as well as internationally. It could also be new initiatives from EU, EBRD, or others, e.g. as the new EU-Russia dialogues. The rest of this article describes potential areas for start-up of new Pan-European cooperation, mainly based on the “Guideline for energy conservation in Europe”. The proposals will be discussed at the ECO-Forum Energy & Climate Group email list, and at the Pan-European NGO Energy Seminar, September 16-22 in Denmark. If we develop proposals that we can agree are good enough and important enough, we will push for the start of the proposed cooperation as soon as possible.

The ministers decided at Arhus98 to recommend a phase-out of environmentally harmful energy price subsidies and introduction of measures to internalise external (environmental) costs by 2005. The
Progress should be assessed for Kiev 2003. The OECD countries have agreed upon a similar goal, and experts at an OECD & UN-ECE Workshop June 2000 in Prague agreed further details.

Co-operation on phase-out of environmental harmful subsidies is an obvious issue for international co-operation. An important first task would be to make a guideline for phase-out of these subsidies, with quantification of the subsidies, examples of optimal phase-out, and policy recommendations.
Price reforms should also include internalisation of external costs, and a guideline for this would also be an obvious task to make before Kiev 2003.

Restructuring of energy markets, in particular liberalisation and privatisation is often done without proper environmental concern. International cooperation to address this problem should include:
· Dissemination of models for market regulation that encourages energy efficiency and integrates environmental concerns in the market framework
· Indicative goals for sustainable development, in particular goals for renewable energy use and for implementation of energy efficiency technologies.

 The benefits of CHP and renewable energy are well known, but the current situation in CEE is that other sources of energy are promoted to the extent that it threatens CHP and the development of renewable energy. To address this problem, countries must include optimal development of district heating and renewable energy in their energy plans. In addition, international co-operation in the field should be strengthened.  The first international co-operation task could be to organise the dissemination of information on best practice with district heating and cooling infrastructure and combined heat and power (CHP) stations, and of small-scale energy supply and renewable energy. This could include the creation of international centres for CHP and renewable energy supply.

 The importance of MDBs (multilateral development banks) in CEE is widely recognized. ECOs generally find that the current MDB investments are far from ideal and that they should focus more on energy efficiency and local solutions. To do this is proposed:
· An international standardized code of conduct for energy efficiency investments should be developed. This code of conduct should promote small-scale investments and enable transparancy and comparability.
· All investments, bilateral aid, funding, etc. in energy and energy services should be subject to - at least - a simple energy and environmental impact assessment
· The problems of high interest rates for lending to small projects via commercial banks should be avoided, e.g. by establishment of non-profit lending institutions that have been successful in many parts of the world from the Danish mortgage institutions to the Bangladesh Grameen Bank,
· MDBs should integrate energy efficiency in all their energy lending projects, to include at least energy efficiency investments that are more cost-effective than energy supply investments under consideration.

Efficiency Labelling and Standards Initiative
 Given the success with energy efficiency labelling and standards, all countries should be invited to participate in relevant schemes, including the EU energy labelling system.

 The importance of employment and environment effects of energy investments is well known, but very often the effects are not quantified adequately, leading to conclusions such as “all projects create jobs”. Job creation for a given investment in energy efficiency is usually higher than for supply-side investment. As a start of international co-operation in this field is proposed:
· Experience with job creation and energy investments should be shared and information exchanged internationally.
· Methodologies for quantifying employment effects of investments should be shared internationally and tested in relevant CEE countries.