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Report’s rankings reveal most countries struggle to balance energy needs

The global energy industry must play a greater role in the transition to sustainable energy systems if United Nations development goals are to be met, warns a report launched by the World Energy Council (WEC).

The potential for billions of people benefiting from sustainable energy systems in future decades hangs in the balance without increased private sector support, it says.

The WEC’s 2013 World Energy Trilemma report, “Time to get real – the case for sustainable energy investment”, was produced with global management consulting firm Oliver Wyman. 

The findings are based on interviews with more than 50 policymakers, including energy and environment ministers, leaders in development banks, governments, IGOs and NGOs, plus experts from more than 25 countries.  

The policymakers interviewed expressed concern that the lack of global consensus on climate change and a future energy system framework, coupled with dramatic disruptions caused by emerging technologies and rapidly shifting patterns of energy use and supply, make it difficult to develop and implement long-term energy policies. This results in increased risk for industry and investors, which must be addressed if the much-needed energy transition is to be delivered in the future.

The report also reveals the results of the 2013 Energy Sustainability Index. The Energy Sustainability Index within the report is the world’s most comprehensive ranking of countries energy policies and evaluates how well 129 countries balance the three conflicting agendas involved in achieving energy sustainability – what the WEC has called the ‘energy trilemma’; energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability.

The Index shows that developed countries with higher shares of energy coming from low- and zero-carbon energy sources supported by well-established energy-efficiency programmes, such as Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden, outperform most countries across all three dimensions of the energy trilemma. Nevertheless, it is clear that all countries still struggle to balance all three aspects of the trilemma’s currently conflicting agendas. Only five countries in the top 10 have been awarded a ‘AAA’ score with Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Spain being the only countries that historically demonstrate their ability to manage the trade-offs between the three competing dimensions equally.

World Energy Council chairman Pierre Gadonneix said: “I am encouraged that there appears to be a growing consensus among both industry and policymakers on the nature of the challenge and what needs to be done.

“The next vital stage in this dialogue will be our World Energy Congress, to be held in just three weeks’ time in Daegu, Korea. There we will work towards a shared vision and smart, pragmatic solutions to securing a sustainable energy future.”

Calling for closer public-private partnership to help overcome these challenges, the policymakers interviewed for the report urge the energy industry to contribute to and promote a long-term energy vision with realistic targets. 

Their recommendations include being more proactive in improving energy policies and being less risk averse regarding energy investments and helping developing countries chart a new energy course

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