Global Database of International Energy Treaties Launched

The Energy and Environmental Security Initiative (EESI), an interdisciplinary center at the University of Colorado Law School this week unveiled an online global database of international energy treaties. Support for renewables is overwhelmingly shaped by state, national and international policy. This database is designed to act as a repository for international policies.

Sponsored by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), the database is called the International Sustainable Energy Assessment (ISEA) and contains in-force energy treaties from all 192 countries in the world dealing with some 45 energy-related subject areas. Morgan Bazilian, REEEP Programme Board Chair, said that international agreements have the ability to profoundly impact renewable energy and energy efficiency activities. “These instruments play a critical role by supporting markets, facilitating technology transfer and capacity-building, and reducing financial barriers,” Bazilian said. “The ISEA project gives us an essential analytical baseline for understanding what’s happening in the world of international agreements relative to energy technologies — and enables us to take the next step of figuring out the best ways of using these instruments to facilitate the growth of renewable energy and energy efficiency activities.” A considerable amount of work went into building the ISEA database. For more than a year, a team of EESI researchers identified and analyzed tens of thousands of international agreements. The researchers first spent months pulling together international agreements from around the world — focusing particularly on China, India, the European Union and the United States. The team then reviewed every single agreement, determining which of them were relevant enough to include in the database. For those agreements included, the researchers carefully analyzed each agreement, coding them by subject areas, obligations, financial mechanisms, implementing methods, institutional arrangements and other relevant criteria. At present, there are two versions of the ISEA database: an internal, password-restricted version that contains all 1,700 agreements — of which the United States is party to approximately 1,100 — and a free public version that contains about 500 agreements. Project Manager Kevin Doran explained that the internal database is a kind of holding-bin. After the team has thoroughly researched and analyzed a treaty, it will then pass it into the public database where anyone can access the information. “We plan to have all 1,700 agreements available on the public site in the next six months,” Doran said. “But in the meantime, we’re happy to provide information on the treaties in the internal database on request.” According to Doran, the public database currently has 94 international agreements dealing with renewable energy technologies — with 40% of these agreements addressing solar energy. The remainder of the renewable energy category is made up of agreements dealing with hydropower (23%), wind (11%), bioenergy (11%), and geothermal (11%). Commenting on the launch of the ISEA database, U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, remarked: “This is an invaluable database. It will be a useful tool in our diplomatic efforts to chart a sustainable energy future with our international partners.” Senator Lugar recently introduced the Energy Diplomacy and Security Act (EDSA) in the U.S. Senate, which has garnered bipartisan sponsorship from 11 U.S. senators. The EDSA seeks to use new and existing international agreements to enhance energy security and promote the use of sustainable energy.
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