Stuart Bruce has contributed a chapter, titled “The sustainable energy transition through international and EU law”, to the recently published book EU Climate Diplomacy: Politics, Law and Negotiations (Routledge, 2018).
The EU has long played a leadership role in the global response to climate change, including the development and dissemination of climate-friendly technologies such as renewable energy. EU diplomacy has been a vital contributor to the development of international cooperation on climate change through the agreement of the United Nations Climate Convention, its Kyoto Protocol and, most recently, the Paris Agreement. This book takes stock of the EU’s current role, and the emerging issues, related to global and regional diplomacy, policy and regulation on climate change.
Stuart’s chapter presents a survey of the public international law and EU sustainable energy legal regimes, and how they can advance climate change policy goals. It shows that the international legal order relating to sustainable energy – focusing on renewables and energy efficiency – is complex, multi-layered and under construction, consisting of an interplay between international environmental and natural resources law norms, non-binding international policy instruments or “soft laws”, directly and indirectly applicable binding treaty obligations and, increasingly, international actors and institutions. Appreciating its various components and machinations is key to understanding the development and future trajectory of international sustainable energy laws and policies and their relation to climate change mitigation and international investments post the Paris Agreement.
Stuart’s chapter then explains how the EU sustainable energy legal regime goes a step further, by not only providing the sign-posting effects of public international law that guide state, investor and consumer behaviour, but by mandating clean energy targets and prescribing regulations that tangibly advance the pivotal issues of decoupling economic and emissions growth, while strengthening energy independence. In reviewing the central directives on renewables and energy efficiency, and the regulation of new technologies such as electric vehicles and battery storage, the chapter highlights how the EU was an early adopter of sustainable energy laws and policies designed to usher in a clean, sustainable and modern society, and continues to influence this space globally.