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A Case for an International Legal Regime on
Renewable Energy
Peter Kayode Oniemola
RLRG Seminar, School of Law University of Aberdeen
22 June 2011
• Introduction
• The Push towards Renewable Energy
-Energy Security
-Climate Change and other environmental concerns
• International Regimes Relevant to Renewable Energy
-Soft Laws
• Post-2012 Climate Change Negotiations
• Statute of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
• The Emergence of a Treaty on Renewable Energy
• Conclusion
• Renewable energy has the potential of contributing
to energy security and climate change mitigation.
• International environmental law instruments give
credence to the promotion of Renewable Energy for
climate change mitigation.
• Existing international law instruments relevant to
renewable energy are inadequate.
• A need for a multilateral treaty on the promotion of
renewable energy is important.
Push Towards Renewable Energy
• Energy Security
• Climate change and other environmental
Soft Laws
• Clearly articulated in Soft laws are steps to promote
renewable energy:
-Rio Declaration
-Agenda 21
-Johannesburg Plan of Implementation
-The Group of Eight (G8) Gleneagles 2005 Plan of Action
-Beijing Declaration on Renewable Energy for Sustainable Development.
• The documents call for measures promoting
renewable energy and transfer of environmentally
sound technologies.
• Soft laws are not binding in international law.
• United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
(UNCLOS) 1982
-Recognition of the sovereign rights of nation states to the
economic exploitation and exploration of natural resources
within their exclusive territorial and economic zones.
-The rights include the production of energy from renewable
energy sources wind and ocean; and the right to construct
turbines, subject to the obligation to respect the rights of
other states and the safe removal of installations when
- A need for a caveat in decommissioning in relation to
renewable energy technology installations.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
• Ultimate objective: Climate change mitigation and
sustainable development.
• Enjoins State Parties to take measures to mitigate
climate change.
• Transfer of environmentally sound technology.
• Steps to promote renewable energy.
• No clear provisions on the renewable energy.
Kyoto Protocol
• Commits developed countries to binding mitigation
• Transfer of environmentally sound technologies
• Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects on
renewable energy.
• Joint Implementation projects on renewable energy
• The CDM and JI have been characterised by
implementation and distribution problems.
• The design of the CDM and JI favour other mitigation
Post-2012 Climate Change Negotiations
• The Bali Road-Map and the current negotiations for a
post-2012 climate change regime are limited on
matters bothering on renewable energy.
• The Copenhagen Conference and Accord as well as
the Conference at Cancun pay more attention to
other mitigation measures.
• Renewable energy lacks prominence in the ongoing
negotiation process for a post-2012 climate change
Statute of International Renewable Energy Agency
• The first international treaty created to set up an
agency specifically devoted on the promotion of
renewable energy.
• IRENA’s goal is to promote the widespread and
increased adoption and the sustainable use of all
forms of renewable energy.
• IRENA lacks the capacity which States may possess in
enhancing the promotion of renewable energy in
their respective jurisdictions.
Towards an Emerging Treaty ...
• The existing international regimes have not effectively
addressed the promotion of renewable energy.
• A treaty on renewable energy is paramount.
• A need for the integration of existing rules.
• The treaty provisions should bind parties by committing
them to set targets and schemes on the promotion of
renewable energy.
• Removing barriers to renewable energy development,
investment and trade.
• Balancing the promotion of renewable energy with
sustainable development.
Considering the potential role of renewable energy,
there is a need for the emergence of a multilateral
treaty on the promotion of renewable energy