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Responding to Climate Change 2011

Home | Education & Research | Central European University

No one-size-fits-all energy policy

Central European University

Windows are exchanged in Hungary’s largest residential building to improve energy efficiency
Windows are exchanged in Hungary’s largest
residential building to improve energy efficiency

Our energy systems should be dramatically transformed to minimise future damage to the environment. The required large-scale and urgent transformations across technologies, sectors and scales are only possible under radically reformed energy policies. Central European University’s (CEU) research and teaching focus on realistic and effective forms of climate-friendly energy governance. CEU explores how climate policies can be linked to employment, energy security and other vital goals, mobilising the necessary political will and support for implementation.

The CEU Centre for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy (3CSEP, focuses on identifying mitigation options that advance development agendas.

Director, Professor Diana Urge-Vorsatz, leads the work on sustainable energy solutions for buildings in the IPCC and the Global Energy Assessment (GEA,, forecasting the mitigation potential from deploying best practices in buildings worldwide.

According to 3CSEP’s recent study, a deep retrofit programme for residential and public buildings in Hungary will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from heating by 85% by 2030, generate over 130,000 jobs essential for economic recovery, and virtually eliminate energy poverty. The Hungarian government has recently announced a programme much in line with these recommendations.

Energy security is another concern potentially aligned with climate change goals. The CEU Energy Policy Research Group ( studies energy security scenarios and related policy issues. Their research shows that most prominent energy security concerns relate to oil. Over three billion people live in 83 countries, importing more than 75% of the oil they consume. Virtually all of the low-income countries import over 80% of their oil needs. An additional 1.7 billion people live in countries with rapidly declining domestic oil reserves which are likely to experience serious import dependency in the near future. In Central Europe, dependence on imported natural gas is a similar problem.

To untangle the complex links between energy security, low-carbon transitions, and other energy objectives, CEU researchers study long-term scenarios and provide policy advice on how reducing demand for fossil fuels meets both climate and energy security goals. The deep retrofit programme could reduce Hungary’s imports of natural gas by almost 60% in a cold month January.

CEU believes there are no one-size-fits-all energy policies for all countries. For example, despite the talk of a global nuclear renaissance, only a few countries currently planning new nuclear energy programmes have the required institutional and financial capacity. Each nation will need to find their unique path to sustainable energy, and international regimes will play a critical role.

The university’s research specifically focuses on the global energy dimension, demonstrating that existing international regimes fall far short of linking the two goals of climate and energy security. An omnipotent “global energy government”, single agency or regime will not be able to manage the complexity and uncertainty entailed in long-term energy transitions.

Instead, research suggests, a polycentric and multi-level governance system promises to help. Progressing towards such a system requires strengthening links between governance arenas – focused on energy security, energy access, and climate change – as well as between various governance levels, so they can learn from, and eventually complement, each other.

Central European University offers English-language Master’s and PhD programmes to students from over 100 countries. Located in Budapest, Hungary, CEU has a distinct academic focus, combining the study of Central and Eastern Europe with a global perspective on good governance, sustainable development and social transformation. CEU attaches particular importance to scholarship relevant to public policy.

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Central European University

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