There is nearly a one-to-one relationship between the installation of renewable energy capacity and the need for FRF energy capacity, thus demonstrating the key relationship between the deployment of renewables and FRF technologies in the move towards a cleaner energy supply, writes the Journal’s editor Don C Smith. A number of important observations that policy makers should take account of are outlined and a broader perspective considered which examines worldwide energy data statistics. Smith asserts that although at some future point the issue of energy storage may have been solved, in the meantime, the intermittency associated with renewables must be considered in the context of electricity security, and that gas generation remains the best on offer. Smith also encourages readers to contribute thoughts and ideas on the new challenges to be tackled in 2017 to be considered in next year’s volume.
The article explores the development of a bioeconomy as offering significant possibilities to address the challenges faced by a world with a growing population, resource scarcity, environmental degradation and climate change. The technical potential for a bioeconomy is impressive and estimated as a suitable alternative to 90 per cent of oil-based products. Borgström and Mauerhofer also relay the several challenges, uncertainties and concerns related to the development of a bioeconomy, including its effects on biodiversity and food production. The culmination of the solutions provided by, and the challenges emerging from, a growing bioeconomy indicate the need to develop regulatory regimes that make the transition rapid, controlled and sustainable. This article explains why, in theory, regulatory systems based on integrative, adaptive and proactive law approaches are a promising way to meet that need.
This paper considers the major consequences for environmental law resulting from the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Reid argues that a continuity of laws provision seems desirable to avoid legislative gaps appearing as the UK begins to disentangle itself from EU law. Environmental law in the UK has changed extensively in the four decades of its membership in the EU and most of these innovations are likely to be retained, although there may be a wish to restore more discretion over the outcomes to be achieved as opposed to satisfying strict EU obligations and targets. Reid stipulates that the structural changes are likely to be the loss of the stability provided by the slow processes of making and changing EU law, and the loss of means to call the UK government to account over their performance in meeting environmental commitments.
The centrepiece of this paper is the future prospects of Sino-American energy cooperation. A practice extending back to the early 1970s, the US and China regularly consult on energy matters and at times exchange innovations and best practices. As a result, energy has been viewed as a relatively ‘safe’ and non-controversial topic that has enhanced bilateral relations and mutual confidence. However, Smith considers the implications of Chinese state-sponsored energy firms’ aggressive move into energy markets around the world in search of energy resources designed to satisfy China’s growing energy demands. US officials have at times reacted with unease, fearful that such commercial relationships might enhance Chinese political influence or geopolitical standing in certain regions, such as the Middle East, where the US has traditionally enjoyed hegemonic pre-eminence. Smith states that despite some compelling negative indicators, energy cooperation is likely to continue into the future.
This commentary reflects favourably on the recent resolution by the UK Supreme Court of a concern that certain take-or-pay provisions could be held unenforceable under English law. The decision clarifies that take-or-pay provisions should be enforceable, and not considered as an unenforceable penalty.
The ‘Anglo-Persian’ concession agreement secured by Willian Knox D’Arcy in 1901 covering mineral exploration rights in Persia (now the Islamic Republic of Iran) became the vehicle for the formation of what today is bp plc. In his commentary, Witton reviews and draws parallels between the commercial principles and legal tenets underpinning this historic concession with modern-day exploration agreements. As Iran prepares for potential foreign investment in a post-sanctions world, the original concepts may yet prove useful in the 21st century.
Catherine Banet, Associate Professor at the University of Oslo, considers EU Environmental Policy – Its journey to centre stage by Nigel Haigh ‘a historical testimony and a reminder of the need for ambition and consistency in EU environmental policy’. Matthew Secomb, Partner at White & Case, describes The leading practitioners’ guide to international oil & gas arbitration edited by James M Gaitis as ‘a quantum leap in the specific field of oil and gas arbitration’.