Institutional Actors in International Energy Law
Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies Working Paper No. 115
28 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2013
Date Written: July 31, 2013
The rise of large emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa – or the ‘BRICS’ – increasingly dominates global energy demand. Whereas these countries experience a steady growth of their middle class and increase their population’s access to energy, other parts of the world are still characterised by rampant energy poverty. At the same time climate change remains one of the world’s greatest unaddressed challenges. Throughout the 20th and early 21st century a wide array of international institutions and bodies were set up to deal with energy related questions, including energy security (both from a demand and supply point of view), the promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as many other issues. Whether the existing institutional frameworks are up to the task is the central topic of this Working Paper.
Today’s international institutional energy architecture can hardly be labelled as ‘inclusive’ up front. Indeed, some international organisations such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) are exclusive ‘consumer’ clubs where many of the world’s leading energy consumers of today are not even included as full members. By the same token, organisations such as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) only have only producer countries as members. Most problematic perhaps is the absence of large emerging economies such as the BRICS and others. The bulk of global energy demand is no longer concentrated in countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as it did throughout a large part of the 20th century. The absence of countries whose energy demand should ideally be a cornerstone of global energy flows thus represents a fundamental governance challenge. Adequately dealing with their absence is no easy task, in particular also due to the fact that not all international organisations and bodies in the field of global energy governance have a formal compliance structure and adequate dispute resolution mechanisms. Enforcing decisions thus remains a noteworthy challenge. Similarly, information about energy markets and flows is not evenly shared throughout the world and reliable data about reserves, stocks and production thus proves difficult to acquire. Furthermore, this lack of trustworthy data on energy trade and energy resources (who are often directly owned by governments) also breeds corruption within countries that are poor and have weakly developed governance structures.
This paper analyses the above mentioned issues in detail and critically assesses the various international organisations present within the energy field for their relative merits and shortcomings.
Keywords: Energy, Global Energy Governance, BRICS, IEA, OPEC, G8, G20, EITI
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