David Buchan

Senior Research Fellow

David Buchan, Senior Research Fellow, joined the OIES in January 2007. Educated in Oxford and Geneva, he began his writing career in 1970 with The Economist. In 1975 he joined the Financial Times, where he remained until 2006. In addition to being FT energy editor from 2000-2002, he was also a foreign correspondent posted in Brussels, Washington DC, and Paris and, when based in London, he was successively east Europe editor, defence correspondent, diplomatic editor and editorial writer. At OIES, he specialises in the energy and climate policy of the European Union on which he has written a number of papers. Aside from writing The Rough Guide to the Energy Crisis (Penguin 2010), he has written two books for the institute, namely, Energy and Climate Change: Europe at the Crossroads (OUP 2009) and, with OIES colleague Malcolm Keay, Europe’s Long Energy Journey – towards an Energy Union? (OUP 2015).

Areas of Expertise
EU Energy/Climate Policy, Energy Editor, Financial Times 2000-02, FT Brussels bureau 1976-78 and 1988-92, Author of several books on the EU

Contact

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                    [post_content] => The European Commission has tabled a mega-package of legislative proposals to complete its blueprint for Europe’s Energy Union. Billed as “the biggest transformation of Europe’s energy system since the building of its centralised energy system a century ago”, the draft legislation aims to accelerate decarbonisation by adapting the electricity market to decentralised and intermittent renewables, and progressive Europeanisation of the sector via a shift from national to regional focus in regulation, renewable payments and back-up systems. It is but a milestone on the long road to any real energy union, and still falls short of that project’s ultimate objectives. But its timing is fortuitous in the fight against climate change, coming as a reminder to President-elect Donald Trump of the undiminished clean energy ambitions of America’s European partners, and possibly in time to reach the EU statute book before the UK’s likely exit from the Union in 2019.
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                    [post_content] => Energy may not be the biggest issue in the impending referendum on the UK’s EU membership. However, energy policy is increasingly being developed at EU level and the EU is aiming to achieve a full ‘Energy Union’, so it is important for those with an interest in energy and decarbonisation to understand the arguments, and to assess the various claims (some potentially misleading) being made about the implications of Brexit for energy. This Comment examines the various factors involved.
                    [post_title] => The UK in the EU – Stay or Leave?  The balance sheet on energy and climate policy
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                    [post_content] => This Comment explores how far the EU can go towards the goal of an Energy Union. The European Commission announced ambitious plans for such a Union earlier this year and followed it up with a number of supporting proposals. However, the Comment identifies a fundamental underlying problem – of governance. The Commission has limited formal powers in relation to energy. It has not so far sought to fill the gap by engaging in the sort of innovative policy making which would be needed to reconcile the contradictions in existing policy in this area, instead relying on bureaucratic measures and processes, which are unlikely to deliver. There is a risk that the EU will move further away from, rather than closer to, a true Energy Union.
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                    [post_content] => The European Commission has unveiled its plan for “an Energy Union”, an initiative triggered by the Ukraine crisis’ implications for gas security, but which has now taken on a far wider dimension. It appears to have political momentum, although it lacks crucial detail, especially on governance and supervision of the many proposed improvements. Nonetheless, it is a major step forward in at last displaying a joined-up approach to energy and climate policy such as using demand response to integrate renewables into Europe’s electricity market.
                    [post_title] => Europe's 'Energy Union' plan - a reasonable start to a long journey
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                    [post_content] => The European Union has decided its energy and climate goals for 2030, becoming the first major player in the international climate negotiations to make a commitment in advance of next year’s United Nations climate conference in Paris. Europe has thus maintained its leadership role in terms of being the first mover, but no longer clearly in terms of ambition. The compromises needed to get agreement within the 28-country organisation have produced a 2030 emissions reduction target that is only barely consistent with the bottom end of the 80-95 per cent range of emission cuts that industrialised countries are aiming to achieve by mid-century. EU leaders have also decided on a future loosening of the policy framework that has been driving their national renewable energy and energy efficiency programmes. If the EU has decided to rely in the next decade primarily on the single target of emissions reduction to achieve progress, it must reform its chosen instrument – the Emissions Trading System – to deliver this target.
                    [post_title] => Energy and climate targets for 2030 - Europe takes its foot off the pedal
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                    [post_content] => The EU faces a crisis over Ukraine, as the main protagonist in the unfolding drama, Russia, is also the EU’s largest source of oil, gas, coal and nuclear fuel imports. It is a serious crisis because it appears to mark the start of Europe and Russia turning away from each other, and not just in political terms. Russia is forging new energy links with China, while EU leaders repeated at their June 2014 summit their call for ‘increased efforts to reduce Europe’s high energy dependency’, meaning in particular its reliance on Russia. Energy security measures in the EU face a special constraint in the degree to which they conflict with the long-term goals of energy decarbonisation and affordability that the EU has set itself for 2020, and is now debating for 2030. If the decarbonisation goal is to be met, the EU cannot decide to rely more on its own resources of high-carbon coal, or to rely less on imports of relatively clean gas. This comment argues that the EU can, and should, address the issues of energy security raised by the Ukraine crisis without jeopardising its goals of decarbonisation and affordability. In short, it should not be panicked into letting energy security worries bend its existing policy framework out of shape.

 Executive Summary
                    [post_title] => Europe's energy security - caught between short-term needs and long-term goals
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                    [post_content] => Inside its 28-country energy market the European Union is permitting serious distortions. These arise out of the current patchy way whereby energy-intensive industries are relieved of the costs of ambitious, clean EU energy policies of capping carbon and promoting renewables.  This comment argues that the EU should adopt a common approach to such carbon cost relief, rather than leaving it to member states, of which only a few are able and willing to help their energy-intensive sectors.

Europe now has substantially higher energy prices than its main competitors. This gap is due partly to the shale revolution in the US; the EU can do little about that, although the European Commission has given a green light to environmentally-responsible exploitation of shale resources in Europe. The gap is also due to clean energy costs which stem from the EU pursuing a climate policy more ambitious than its competitors. There is no evidence yet that carbon costs (purchase of emission allowances + renewable energy subsidies) have led to ‘carbon leakage’ – energy-intensive industrial output leaking out of Europe to locations without carbon costs or constraints. But there is already some evidence that EU carbon costs are discouraging new investment in energy-intensive sectors in Europe. If Europe’s energy costs remain higher than those of its competitors for many years – which they are forecast to do – it is very likely that carbon leakage or investment leakage will occur.

This comment therefore accepts the need for some relief from clean energy costs. But only one form of this cost relief (that for the direct cost of Emission Trading System allowances) is provided in a harmonised manner across Europe. Compensation for the bulk of clean energy costs (indirect ETS costs + renewables costs) is left to member states, and only a few of them provide it. This is distorting competition in the EU energy market. The comment proposes two ways of removing this distortion. 
                    [post_title] => Costs, competitiveness and climate policy - distortions across Europe
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                    [post_content] => The Commission has recently presented a Communication setting out its proposals for climate and energy goals for the period after 2020, when current legislation expires.  It aims to set a single overall target for emissions  – a 40% reduction over 1990 levels by 2030 – as the centrepiece of its package.  It also proposes an EU-wide renewables target  (at least 27% of energy consumption in 2030) though without the present arrangements under which an overall target in this area is translated into binding national targets.  Instead, it proposes a new governance system for the whole package based on Commission review of national energy plans.  This Comment, by David Buchan and Malcolm Keay, looks at the proposals and concludes that while the new goal seems relatively unambitious, the new governance arrangements run the risk of being ineffective or intrusive (or both).
                    [post_title] => The EU's new energy and climate goals for 2030 - under-ambitious and over-bearing?
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                    [post_content] => France is debating its energy transition, triggered by President Hollande’s pledge to reduce nuclear power’s dominant share in the country’s electricity mix. The debate has yet to produce a new energy law, but has shaken French complacency that they completed their energy transition years ago by decarbonising their electricity through nuclear power. It has also raised the question of the long term future and replacement of France’s 58 reactors. This paper argues against early closure of reactors, but also against maximum prolongation of the life of all these 58 reactors which would face France with an impossible rebuilding challenge in the future. The paper shows that the marriage of nuclear and renewables is not impossible, and contends France has little to fear from a more ambitious renewable energy programme.
                    [post_title] => The French Disconnection - Reducing the nuclear share in France's energy mix
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                    [post_content] => The European Commission has presented guidelines to persuade Europe’s 28 governments to limit, rationalise and Europeanise their intervention in the electricity market through national renewable and capacity support schemes. This guidance could make renewable schemes more cost-effective, but shows little sense of the urgency needed to address the increasingly dire situation of conventional back-up capacity for intermittent renewables.
                    [post_title] => Limiting state intervention in Europe's electricity market
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                    [post_content] => The European Union’s integrated energy and climate policy is coming apart. This is due to the effects of recession, and the impact of national renewable energy and back-up generation schemes, on the EU blueprint for a single energy market. New Commission guidelines will seek to Europeanize these national schemes, but this Europeanization effort assumes faster progress in cross-border integration than has been achieved so far. To mesh intermittent renewables with conventional energy back-up, and to maintain the geographical unity of Europe’s energy sector, may require a new concept of energy markets.
                    [post_title] => Why Europe’s energy and  climate policies are coming apart
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                    [post_content] => Progress to a single European energy market is proving very uneven. David Buchan explains the European Commission’s worry that rapid development of national renewable and back-up capacity markets could shut off countries’ energy sectors from each other, before efforts to improve cross-border electricity connection and trading can produce results. Brussels may soon have to concede the fight against climate change will do some damage to the architecture of a free energy market, but in the meantime persistent regulation of energy prices is a more immediate menace  to the single market than capacity mechanism plans are.
                    [post_title] => Europe’s misshapen market -  Why progress towards a single energy market is proving uneven
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                    [post_date] => 2012-06-25 16:11:35
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                    [post_content] => Germany has set itself a huge challenge in trying to move away from fossil fuels and abandon nuclear power, while remaining a major industrial power. This challenge to create an Energiewende – an energy turnaround or transformation – has ambitious targets. David Buchan argues that Germany is on track to meet only one of its three main targets (a one-third renewable share of electricity by 2020), and that the country will fail to reach the second target (to cut energy consumption by a fifth by 2020), and that this failure will make attainment of the third goal  (emission reduction) harder. In a broader sense, the gamble may still come off, provided future gains in renewable technology and jobs can be achieved with lower subsidy costs. No other country can tap such technical expertise from industry or such bottom-up activism from municipal companies and citizens’ cooperatives in support of low-carbon energy.
                    [post_title] => The Energiewende – Germany’s gamble
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                    [post_content] => The term ‘road map’ is proliferating in energy and climate policy to denote any policy or aspiration projected into the future. Connie Hedegaard, Europe’s environment commissioner, hailed the Durban conference agreement as a ‘road map’ to an eventual global climate deal. This contrasts with the far more detailed road maps that she and her European Commission colleagues have been publishing on how Europe can reach its 2050 emission targets. This OIES comment looks at the uses and abuses of road maps. It shows they can be a substitute for action, but also argues they can also be a precursor to action, or at least useful in giving policy-makers and investors a sense of direction for the low carbon economy. And the Durban road map might just reinforce the sense – already evident in some parts of the fossil industry - that global carbon pricing is inevitable one day.
                    [post_title] => Peering into the future fog of CO2 – how road maps can help
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                    [post_content] => The European Commission has broken new ground in proposing to streamline national planning approval of vital energy infrastructure, use EU funds to leverage private finance for such networks and to negotiate foreign pipelines on the EU’s behalf. These initiatives coincide awkwardly with the eurozone crisis. But David Buchan broadly endorses Brussels’ attempt to kick-start implementation of Europe’s 2020 energy and climate goals. He suggests the Commission go a step further by taking advantage of the forthcoming treaty revision to propose a constitutional amendment on EU states’ energy mix.
                    [post_title] => Expanding the European dimension in energy policy: the Commission’s latest initiatives
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                    [post_content] => New proposed rules to save energy are encroaching on the Emissions Trading Scheme. David Buchan examines the growing tension inherent in Europe’s belt and braces approach of trying to combine increasing regulation of energy efficiency and  renewables with the market mechanism of the ETS.  The simple solution would be to reduce the supply of  ETS  carbon allowances in line with the regulation-induced drop in carbon demand. But the politics of doing this are proving impossible.
                    [post_title] => Applying belt and braces to EU energy policy
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                    [post_content] => This new paper calls for a new EU energy and climate deal in which east European member states would be required to do more - but also be paid more - to increase renewable energy and improve energy efficiency. David Buchan argues Brussels is right to look east for further emission reductions and that extra money can be found for the 10 new member states there by redirecting funds within the existing EU budget and by Europeanizing national renewable energy subsidies. The 76-page study traces central and eastern Europe's considerable progress in transforming its energy system since emerging from communism 20 years ago but warns its governments that they 'cannot be easily helped more if they will not help themselves' by giving climate change the same priority as energy security.
                    [post_title] => Eastern Europe’s energy challenge: meeting its EU climate commitments
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                    [post_content] => California has clear lessons to offer the rest of the US and the world in energy efficiency achieved through persistent pressure on energy appliance standards and clever public regulation of its private energy companies. Energy efficiency is increasingly important if the task of de-carbonizing the power and transport systems of growing economies is not to become unmanageable. This OIES paper by David Buchan highlights California's unusual combination of wealth technology natural resources and legal room for manoeuvre that enables the state to pursue a climate policy different from that of the US federal government but that is also probably hard to replicate elsewhere.
                    [post_title] => California’s Climate Policy – a Model?
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                    [post_content] => California’s plan to cap and trade emissions has survived the Republican onslaught at the ballot box. David Buchan explains its importance as North America’s first economy-wide cap and trade scheme, as the potential core of a regional system, and as a test bed for finding the right market/regulatory mix in climate policy.
                    [post_title] => California climate policy survives Republican tsunami
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                    [post_content] => David Buchan argues the EU's December 2008 agreement raises almost as many questions as it settles.
                    [post_title] => Europe’s complex climate compromise
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                    [post_content] => The temptation for EU governments to be seen to "do something" about rolling back energy prices has increased, is increasing and ought to be resisted, argues David Buchan.
                    [post_title] => Politicians and prices - the itch to intervene
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                    [post_content] => The European Commission has proposed a very ambitious overhaul of its climate change policies. But the renewable energy target could prove a distracting sideshow to the main task of reducing emissions, argues David Buchan.
                    [post_title] => Europe, Emissions and Echternach - assessing Brussels' January 2008 package
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                    [post_modified] => 2016-02-29 14:43:03
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                    [post_content] => The European Commission has stuck to its guns in proposing ownership unbundling for energy networks. But David Buchan warns that if the Commission's plans misfire on investment from inside and outside the EU, and create more of a two tier market structure, they would have been better kept in their holster.
                    [post_title] => Crusading against vertical integration
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                    [post_content] => The European Union faces a difficult autumn carrying forward its three pronged energy programme. The problem so far, argues David Buchan, is less the policies cutting across each other than the 27 member states, with their differing views on Russia, competition and green priorities.
                    [post_title] => Europe’s mid-summer blues
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                    [post_content] => David Buchan argues that Angela Merkel has got her fellow EU leaders to agree at their March 8-9 summit to goals giving her a strong hand in chairing this year’s G-8 climate change negotiations. But making the emission trading scheme work would be a better long- term route to promoting clean energy than setting renewables targets.
                    [post_title] => The European Union’s new targets on emissions and renewables: pluses and minuses
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                    [post_content] => In this comment, David Buchan looks at the Commission’s recently published energy policy proposals. Amid growing concern about climate change and energy security, the time may be ripe for a European energy policy but the Commission is likely to find it difficult to achieve consensus on its proposals from the member states. Its main powers relate to the establishment of the internal energy market, where many member states are reluctant to see stronger intervention.
                    [post_title] => Europe’s crab-like sidle towards a common energy policy
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            [post_content] => The European Commission has tabled a mega-package of legislative proposals to complete its blueprint for Europe’s Energy Union. Billed as “the biggest transformation of Europe’s energy system since the building of its centralised energy system a century ago”, the draft legislation aims to accelerate decarbonisation by adapting the electricity market to decentralised and intermittent renewables, and progressive Europeanisation of the sector via a shift from national to regional focus in regulation, renewable payments and back-up systems. It is but a milestone on the long road to any real energy union, and still falls short of that project’s ultimate objectives. But its timing is fortuitous in the fight against climate change, coming as a reminder to President-elect Donald Trump of the undiminished clean energy ambitions of America’s European partners, and possibly in time to reach the EU statute book before the UK’s likely exit from the Union in 2019.
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