Shaping European Energy Policy: The role of non profits

28 Feb

1. Relevance of energy related non profits in Europe

2. Energy and climate issues of most concern in Europe

2.1. The EU ETS and its Phase III

2.2. Energy efficiency

2.2.1. Scattered regulatory framework

2.2.2. Lessons to be learned from the US model

2.2.3. The “Concession Model”

2.2.4. The potential of the East

3. What could energy related non profits do?

3.1. Phase III of the ETS

3.1.1. Ensuring compliance at the national and European level

3.1.2. Helping national officials with monitoring and NAP´s elaboration

3.2. Energy efficiency

3.2.1. Policy advice and coordination

3.2.2. Public counseling

1. Relevance of  energy related non profits in Europe

The European Union is facing several challenges that directly impact to its energy policy: the incorporation of the Eastern European States; its loss of relevance in the international climate scenario; and the reforms to the political and legal structure introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. All these issues make clear that non profits devoted to assist governments in energy policy can be very important in how the European Union overcomes these difficulties.

2. Energy and climate issues of most concern in Europe

2.1.The EU ETS and its Phase III

Since the European Union has undertaken the task of establishing a multi-country emissions trade system for carbon dioxide, several studies have been conducted about either the success or failure of the program. However, the amendments to the ETS Directive approved by both the European Commission and the European Parliament in 2009 have created a new opportunity for the EU to demonstrate its commitment to the fight against climate change.

The new Phase III of the EU ETS will start in 2013 and will be based on the auctioning of allowances. Thus, the time has come to ensure that, before Phase III starts, all the Member States are prepared to:

–          Comply with its requirements

–          Assess correctly the amount of emissions in order to avoid over-allocation

–          Correctly monitor compliance with the system

–          Avoid excessive administrative costs

–          Organize auctioning in an efficient way. Even though this is not the policy of the current European Commissioner for the Environment, funding provided by these auctions should be used to improve energy efficiency programs and to create a system of energy efficiency credits.

2.2.Energy efficiency

2.2.1. Scattered regulatory framework

One of the most important concerns of Europe´s energy policy is the lack of a coherent and single efficiency policy. Each Member State has its own policy, and the EU only provides funds for individual projects. Even though some legislative action has been undertaken, it has only established a series of principles the Member States must apply, especially in the field of building codes.

2.2.2. Lessons to be learned from the US model

In the field of energy efficiency, the United States is a model to be imitated. Since Amory Lovins´ first articles about energy efficiency, a substantial part of the US has encouraged efficiency in both senses of end-use efficiency and utility efficiency. The state of Vermont (among others, like Oregon and California) has undertaken a strong commitment to energy efficiency, developing a program for an “energy efficiency utility”, Efficiency Vermont, in charge of implementing efficiency programs and helping customers.

2.2.3. The “Concession Model”

A similar model could be adopted in Europe. Administrative law in Europe has created the legal figure of the concession for the cases when an activity is considered a public service. In the concessional scheme, the government concedes the activity to a private entity but sets very strict terms of service. This traditional method of ensuring the State fulfills its duties to provide public services can be used to encourage efficiency.

The model would work as follows: Each State would have to declare energy efficiency as a “public service”. Once that is done, the service of providing energy efficiency programs and measures would be conceded to a private entity like Efficiency Vermont. Thus, the advantages of the Vermont model could be adapted to the Civil Law tradition and exported to Europe.

2.2.4. The potential of the East

The last of the issues that have to be taken into account in the efficiency field is the enormous potential of the Eastern European countries. Their recent incorporation into the European Union presented a challenge, but it can be also considered an opportunity. Most of these countries lack serious efficiency programs. Because of this, there is a huge opportunity for improvement.

3. What could energy related non profits do?

3.1. Phase III of the ETS

3.1.1. Ensuring compliance at the national and European level

One of the most important tasks non profits may undertake is helping national officials to adapt their systems and institutions to Phase III. Since one of the most criticized issues of the ETS has been the huge administrative costs it has caused national governments, these non profits can be helpful in the process of rationalizing compliance with Phase III of the ETS. Organizing workshops and seminars for national officials in order to inform them about Phase III could be really useful.

3.1.2. Helping national officials with monitoring and NAP´s elaboration

The second most criticized issue of the first two phases of the ETS is the issue of over allocation of allowances caused by the erroneous assessment conducted by the Member States on their own emissions. Because of this, research, analysis and educational help could be provided by energy related non profits to both national and European officials to avoid this problem in the NAP elaboration process.

3.2. Energy efficiency

3.2.1. Policy advice and coordination

As we have already seen, there is a great potential for energy efficiency in Europe. Non profits´ role could be to act as advisors to both the EU and the national governments in this field, proposing the adoption of the “Concessional Model” at the national level, and the creation of a coordinated regulatory framework at the European level.

3.2.2. Public counseling

In this field, energy related non profits could constitute an ideal public advocate for energy efficiency, especially in Eastern Europe. The provided expertise in the field of energy efficiency may greatly facilitate public and governmental awareness of the need for a more efficient use of energy in Europe.

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