Jun 27, 2013

World Energy Council Sustainability Index Released

written by Michael Launer

The World Energy Council (WEC) recently released its latest Energy Sustainability Index, which compares nearly 100 of the world’s economies in terms of their national energy mix. This volume is a companion to the WEC policy study, entitled “World Energy Trilemma 2012.”

A key factor in these rankings is the extent to which countries have insulated themselves from hydrocarbons and have achieved a reduced carbon footprint. Not surprisingly, the Top 10 countries in the WEC rankings are also among the richest in the world (in terms of per capita income). Indeed, five are among the Top 10 countries by that measure as well, and the lowest, New Zealand, ranks 22nd:

Country

WEC Ranking

Income Ranking*

Sweden

1

7

Switzerland

2

4

Canada

3

8

Norway

4

2

Finland

5

14

New Zealand

6

22

Denmark

7

6

Japan

8

11

France

9

20

Austria

10

12

*A composite figuring derived from IMF data and population estimates

The United States, which ranks 10th in the world in per capita income, occupies 12th place in the WEC sustainability rankings. China, only the 62nd richest nation in per capita income, is ranked No. 71 by the WEC.

What might be surprising, given the widespread negative reaction in various places around the world, is the importance the World Energy Council places on nuclear power generation as a low carbon option. Indeed, Japan made the Top Ten based largely on its nuclear power infrastructure (the data set for this study included installed capacity and did not take into consideration the current situation, with virtually all nuclear based energy production in that country at a standstill). Thus it is interesting that France, one of the greatest advocates of nuclear energy, and Austria, one of its most virulent opponents, have taken widely divergent paths to achieve the same goal.

For political reasons, many observers fail to include the nuclear option in their discussions of this issue, and - at least in the United States - the renewable energy industry has distanced itself from nuclear. But as climate change takes center stage in world energy policies and politics, it makes sense to see the commercial nuclear sector and the “traditional” renewables sector as natural allies in the movement to de-emphasize hydrocarbons as the primary source of energy production worldwide.

Sources:

http://www.worldenergy.org/

http://www.worldenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/PUB_2012_Energy_-Sustainability_-Index_VOLII1.pdf

http://www.worldenergy.org/publications/2012/world-energy-trilemma-2012

http://www.worldenergy.org/news-and-media/news/wec-intensifies-central-and-eastern-europe-activities/

Trilemma: Published December 2012
Topics: Energy security, Energy trilemma, Environmental impact mitigation, Policy, Social equity

Top 10 Countries: The 10 countries cited as achieving the best solutions with the most sustainable national systems were: Sweden (7), Switzerland (4), Canada (8), Norway (2), Finland (14), New Zealand (22), Denmark (6), Japan (11), France (20) and Austria (12).
 

 

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