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A valuable tool to compare national progress

An index produced by WEC provides insight into policies around the world

The WEC's 2016 Energy Trilemma Index, designed to shine a spotlight on progress among most of countries towards achieving sustainable energy goals shows that strides are being made in all areas highlighted by the Trilemma concept, WEC delegates were told at the launch on Wednesday.

The Index is designed to allow countries to monitor their progress towards reaching sustainable energy goals in relation to others, Philip Lowe, Vice Chair of the World Energy Trilemma team told delegates.

The Energy Trilemma index comparatively ranks 125 countries in terms of the likelihood that they can provide a secure, affordable and environmentally sustainable energy system. Tools linked to the Index website also allow for the data produced to be thoroughly analysed.

Index results show that policy choices and a regime to support a robust energy sector are critical to Energy Trilemma performance-regardless of a country's resources or geographic location-and that policies and investments needed to balance the Trilemma will take time and be disruptive.

Panellists discussing the launch emphasised the increasing relevance of the Index, given the requirement for all countries to develop their own strategies to meet emissions reductions following the Paris climate change agreement.

Governments should pay much more attention to the Energy Trilemma issue, especially in the wake of the Paris agreement, said Kang Yanbing, director of the Energy Sustainability Center at the Energy Research Institute in China.

Amit Kumar, Dean in India's Energy and Resources Institute agreed, saying that India needed resources such as the Index, that allow comparison with other countries to see how areas such as accessibility can be tackled while meeting sustainability objectives.

Powering progress

The 2016 Energy Trilemma Index reveals signs of progress on all dimensions of the Energy Trilemma. Thirteen of the 125 countries assessed achieve a triple-A score.

Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden lead the 2016 Index, with the former also achieving the highest score for energy security. Luxembourg maintains its position as most equitable and the Philippines comes out top for the environmental sustainability dimension.

In Latin America, Uruguay ranks the highest, while in the Middle East, Israel is the leader. In sub-Saharan Africa, Mauritius performs best, while in Asia, New Zealand is leader.

Clear challenges

Matthias Finger, director of the Institute of Technology and Public Policy at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne in Switzerland said the Index highlights the challenge of implementing sustainable policies in often-diverse countries, often, like Indian with federal structures.

He said Switzerland's second place ranking in the Index could in large part be attributed to a more centralised approach to policy-making, as the country has relatively few government ministers, making coordination between public sector departments much easier.

For success in tackling the Energy Trilemma, a clearly defined strategy needed to be developed at the national level to complement short-term policy, Steven Griffiths, vice president for research at the UAE's Masdar Institute told delegates. He said countries needed to develop road maps that didn't just set long-term objectives for, say 2050, but clearly show how they were going to get there in 2020, 2030 and 2040.

Efforts to increase resource productivity and manage energy demand growth will be key in ensuring a balanced Energy Trilemma, the report's authors say.

Among the countries included in the Index, access to electricity and clean cooking have both increased by 5% to 85% and 74%, respectively since 2000.

Meanwhile, cleaner forms of energy are being used to support energy access and economic growth, with renewables making up 9.7% of total primary energy consumption in 2015.

A more diversified and low-carbon energy mix will help to improve energy security and environmental sustainability but its positive effects may be stifled by rising energy consumption, which is predicted to increase by up to 46% by 2060, the Index report finds.

Panellists also stressed that solutions to the challenges identified by the Index would change, as the world became more urbanised, given energy-efficient smart grids and technology are more easily applied in cities.

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