Change in energy and environmental performance score of selected countries, 1990-2010 (%)
Box figure 2 shows that Myanmar suffered the largest deterioration of energy and environmental security, a 63% decline, between 1990 and 2010. The best improvers were Malaysia, Australia, and Brunei D...
This study raises three main points. First, most countries have improved their energy security only marginally or else regressed. Interestingly, even the best performers fell far short of a perfect score of 100. Japan and Brunei Darussalam scored favorably on barely more than half of the metrics, and the fourth-placed US scored favorably on only one-third. This conclusion is discouraging in light of all the apparent progress that has been made since
the 1970s: the creation of the IEA, the rapid growth of renewable energy, the rise of energy efficiency and demand management, and research on cutting-edge technologies. Despite these frenetic efforts, the index suggests that energy security in most countries has stagnated or even weakened. Second, the index reveals great disparity. Japan, a strong leader, did not leave improving energy security to the marketplace. Its experience underscores the importance of government intervention. The success of Japanese energy policy arose from coordinated and consistent political support for policy and aggressive investments to achieve ambitious targets. Third, the study reveals the difficult tradeoffs among components of energy security. Japan achieved its low energy intensity, advanced technology, and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions only with large government subsidies and comparatively high prices for energy services. The Lao PDR has a small carbon footprint and high penetration of hydroelectricity but has prioritized exporting energy rather than expanding domestic access, though it is now seeking to expand hydropower supply to the domestic market. Dam construction continues to erode environmental quality, and the country remains completely dependent on imported oil to fuel transport.
Myanmar’s extreme export-oriented energy strategy can leave its population literally in the dark, its favorable score on environmental indicators reflecting only limited capacity and poor access. The fundamental problem is that some elements of energy security, such as affordability, apparently come only at the expense of others, such as sustainability and efficiency. Perhaps in recognition of this, Myanmar is beginning to change its export-oriented strategy.
---- EU = European Union, PDR = people’s democratic republic, PRC = People’s
Republic of China, USA = United States of America.
----- Source: Sovacool et al. 2011.