March 3, 2016 --Two Finnish energy law experts stressed the importance of greater interaction among governments and corporations at all levels to make global energy policies more effective in talks last week at the University of Houston Law Center.
The two professors discussed “The Future Direction of EU Energy Policy: Energy Union” as part of the annual lecture series sponsored by the Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Center at the law school.
“With the initiative of making countries more sustainable by refraining from fossil fuels the Energy Union Strategy developed by the European Commission is trying to address the issues of different energy policies and the interaction between the departments,” said Kim Talus, a professor of European Economic and Energy Law at the University of Eastern Finland and professor of Energy Law at University of Helsinki.
In order for the Energy Union to make strides toward solving current energy problems, Talus said policies need to improve interaction at the low level and interaction at the high level and at the political and governmental level.
“The presentation helped unpack the basic tension that exists in the European Union between sovereignty of nations to regulate and set their own energy policy and the need to have a unified approach to energy policy among all EU member states,” said Associate Professor Bret Wells, director of the EENR center.
“The regulatory framework in the EU is a uniquely European framework, but certainly there are interesting parallels with the concurrent federal and state regulatory overlaps that exist in the United States,” he said. “Energy is an increasingly globalized issue, and it is helpful to see how others in the global community are addressing similar problems in terms of implementing sustainable energy policy that is safe, secure, and environmentally sensitive.”
Different departments share different opinions, Talus said, and synergy between energy efficient policies, resource efficient policies, and the circular economy needs to happen. However, there have not been any changes in the past 20 years, he added.
“They have been trying to interconnect the networks, and there have been initiatives to improve the energy problem, but there are still problems that need to be changed,” Talus said.
Sirja-Leena Penttinen, a lecturer in European and Energy Law at the University of Eastern Finland Law School, also mentioned her concerns with the Energy Union Strategy, but focused on the current policies and targets the Energy Union is trying to reach in order to improve the energy policies.
Penttinen said the European Union has a 2030 framework for climate and energy in order to help reach their 2050 greenhouse gas reduction target; however because execution of these targets rely on the separate EU member states to adopt policy changes that are within their sovereign control, the implementation of these directives represents a complex and iterative process among the EU member states and the EU.
The speakers concluded that a lot of work still needed to be done in order to bring about changes in the energy sector.
“The Law Center is at the cross-roads for energy issues and discussions with leading academics around the world,” said Wells. “It is a wonderful experience for our students and faculty to have a chance to hear the views of leading European energy academics like Professor Talus and Professor Penttinen. We are very fortunate to have them come to our university and to speak to our students. And, it is a testament to our awesome students that so many are interested and engaged on global energy topics.”