Sustainable energy consumption requires
informed consumers making sound sovereign decisions.
In most industrialized and industrializing countries alike
the average consumer has hitherto remained under-informed
of the various environmental impacts of energy consumption
and of existing energy conservation potentials in modernized
urban households. Most consumers are not aware of
potentials in energy savings and their respective costs/
benefits when they buy or operate electrical appliances
or other energy consuming devices.
With the rapid economic development
in the Asia-Pacific region, production and consumption
patterns are changing, in particular in the urban metropolitan
centres of the region. Modern consumption oriented
life styles are invariably more energy intensive, require
more resources and generate more environmental impacts,
including emissions and waste.
With economic expansion, consumers
benefit from a rapidly expanding choice of products and
services. However, as the number of comparable products
to choose from expands, the consumer still lacks the technical
information or economic data, that would be required to
make an environmentally conscious consumer choice.
Information of the consumer cannot remain entirely the
responsibility of the manufacturers, who have a vested
interest in marketing their products, and may, therefore,
not be unbiased in their advertisement. The long
term trends of economic expansion and increasing prosperity
in the Asia-Pacific region makes consumer information
a new and increasingly important area for policy formulation.
National consumer groups, consumer organizations
and similar NGOs have a potentially important role to
play in the promotion of sustainable energy consumption.
The main objective of this project is therefore to enable
and guide representatives of such organizations to engage
effectively in the related advocacy work.
The Regional Symposium on Effective Consumer
Information for Sustainable Energy Use was organized with
a view to introduce participants to the policy issues
involved, and it intends to provide essential technical
background information in a manner sufficiently easy to
be understood (and possibly re-used) by non-engineers.
This project had been prepared and
was carried out jointly by the Citizens' Alliance for Consumer
Protection of Korea (CACPK), Seoul, Republic of Korea, and
the secretariat of the United Nations Economic and Social
Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Bangkok, Thailand.
The NGO forum was supported by the
Government of the Republic of Korea.
The Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES)
also supported the project through sponsorship of
distinguished guest speakers from Germany.
As the main sponsor of the project, the Government
of the Republic of Korea has provided ESCAP and CACPK with
funding for a limited number of sponsorships to cover international
air travel as well as local costs for selected participants
from ESCAP member countries. Six sponsorships were
available for selected experts/resource persons from other
ESCAP member countries to take part in the Symposium.
Additional 15 sponsorships were available for one selected
participant from each of the following countries to take
part in both the Symposium and the Training Workshop:
Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Islamic Republic of Iran,
Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New
Guinea, Philippines, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Viet Nam.
As a co-sponsor, Friedrich Ebert
Foundation agreed to cover travel costs of distinguished
guest speakers from Germany.
Other organizations interested to
extend support to this event are invited to contact the
organizers at the contact addresses given below.
and Recommendations for Future Action by Consumer Organizations
to Promote Sustainable Development and Sustainable Energy
1. The Asia-Pacific NGO Forum was organized
jointly by United Nations Economic and Social Commission
for Asia and Pacific (UN ESCAP) and Citizens' Alliance for
Consumer Protection of Korea (CACPK) with support provided
by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT), Ministry
of Environment (MOE), Ministry of Commerce, Industry and
Energy (MOCIE), Korea Energy Management Corporation (KEMCO)
and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (Germany). The objective of
the Forum was to discuss perspectives for the future engagement
of consumer organizations in the area of promoting sustainable
development and sustainable energy use.
2. The participants noted that a Draft
Resolution concerning the Expansion of Guidelines on Consumer
Protection to Include Sustainable Development has been
recommended by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable
Development for adoption by the Economic and Social Council
of the United Nations in 1999/2000. These guidelines foresee
an active role for consumer organizations in promoting
sustainable development, including sustainable energy
use. In the above context, the Forum participants agreed
on the following overall outline of recommendations for
future action by consumer organizations:
3. The consumer organizations noted that
current energy systems are predominantly based on finite
fossil fuel reserves and are therefore not sustainable
in the long term. The future use and expansion of nuclear
energy may not be advisable in the long run because of
the high investment costs and disposal of nuclear wastes,
and because of environmental risk associated with the
accidental release of radiation. The greater use of renewable
sources of energy should be promoted as far as possible
throughout all sectors of the economy. Energy efficiency
is recognized as a major key to a sustainable energy future
and should be advocated as far as possible in consumer
4. The Forum confirmed the primacy of the
task of supporting and expanding consumer education and
awareness programmes in the field of sustainable consumption,
especially targeting children as future consumers. Education
is considered to be a key to influencing government and
industry, and to changing consumer behaviour so as to promote
sustainable energy use in society. Educational programmes
should seek to curb over-consumption, which is an increasing
danger as income levels rise.
5. The potential role of psychology in
explaining and predicting consumer behaviour patterns
was recognized as very significant in promoting sustainable
energy use. The use of psychology in this area should
Consumer protection laws
6. A comprehensive system of legislation
designed to protect consumer interests is essential. Consumers
investing in renewable energy devices and energy efficiency
equipment deserve particular protection from misleading
information. Related legislation can be justified on the
(a) Sustainable energy policies are
in the public interest.
(b) Renewable energy devices and energy
efficient equipment involve substantial initial costs
before energy savings are realized.
(c) Renewable energy devices and energy
efficient equipment are peculiarly susceptible to consumer
The building sector
7. The Forum recognized the desirability
of introducing new measures or amending existing measures
to promote energy conservation in the building sector. These
measures might include one or more of the following:
(a) Legislation requiring a vendor
of a new building designed for residential purposes to
provide information on the insulation installed in the
building in the contract of sale of the building.
(b) Legislation entitling all prospective
purchasers and tenants of houses and residential apartments
to receive information on the past heating and cooling
costs of a home that they are considering renting or buying.
(c) The creation of a system of energy
rating or labeling for buildings. An illustration of this
type of measure would require an owner wishing to sell
their home to first have it energy rated and then to include
the resulting rating in any advertisement for TIS sale.
A software package could be developed to make rating homes
a relatively straightforward exercise.
(d) The establishment of a system of
energy conservation option points, whereby all new dwelling
units for which a building permit is required would be
obliged to score a minimum number of points from an options
list. A specified number of points would be awarded for
each energy conservation feature included by the builder
in the construction.
8. The Forum also considered it important
to have incentives and other measures to promote energy
efficiency in existing buildings.
9. The Forum noted with concern the current
heavy reliance of motor vehicles on petroleum and the current
lack of effective alternatives. For this reason emphasis
must be given to minimizing fuel consumption and emissions
in all forms of road transport. Two possible measures to
achieve this goal were considered worthy of adoption:
(a) A compulsory reference to fuel
consumption in all model-specific motor vehicle advertising.
Under this proposal all manufacturers advertising for
sale specific models of new vehicles would be obliged
to include in the advertisements a precise reference to
the fuel consumption figures applicable to the vehicle.
This measure would extend to all forms of advertisements,
both in print and in the media.
(b) A system of fuel consumption labeling,
whereby a label would be attached to all new vehicles
stating the fuel consumption of the vehicle. The figure
would be based on test results, discounted to take account
of reduced fuel consumption in city driving conditions.
Manufacturers warranties for consumer goods
10. The Forum believes that to promote consumer
confidence in renewable energy devices and energy conservation
materials it is essential that an effective system of legal
warranties exist. Warranties of a minimum specified duration
should be prescribed in legislation and must give consumers
an effective system of legal redress where the equipment
fails to perform according to manufacturers' specifications.
Consumer product standards
11. A further measure considered important
by consumer organizations to promote sustainable development
is the introduction of product standards. Product standards
are a measure of adequacy of a product and may be used to
compare value and quality. Standards promote uniformity
and thus avoid irregularities or undesirable variations
in a product. To promote maximum compliance and to increase
consumer confidence, it is important that all standards
can be legally enforced. The simplest method of achieving
this would be to enact legislation giving the appropriate
government agency the power to prescribe a standard and
to enact laws to protect and enforce all prescribed standards.
12. Minimum energy performance standards
were recognized as an effective way to assist consumers
by requiring the manufacture of products with lower energy
operating costs. Such standards should be phased in over
several years in order to give manufacturers the opportunity
to improve the efficiency of their products. Technical
assistance and financial support may be necessary in some
cases, especially for smaller manufacturers.
13. While standards are regarded as appropriate
and desirable in all cases in developed countries, consideration
must be given to the appropriateness of standards in developing
countries. In such countries, such standards should not
be set too high or they may favour imported products at
the expense of local manufacturers.
Economic and policy incentives for energy efficient
14. Consumer organizations should be aware
of the likely increased expansion of certain electrical
appliances in the short to medium term and should seek to
ensure that the models offered for sale should be the most
efficient. An important example of this is refrigerators.
Energy efficient models should be supported by one or more
of the following incentives:
(a) Customer rebate programmes.
(b) Government incentives to manufacturers.
(c) Innovative procurement programmes.
(d) Voluntary and compulsory energy labeling
(e) Minimum energy efficiency performance
Training system for installers of appliances
15. The Forum noted that the installation
of renewable energy devices and energy efficiency equipment
has given rise in the past to many consumer complaints and
has proved in some cases to be a deterrent to the growth
of the market in these products. It is believed that a lack
of training of salespeople, installers and providers of
after sales service is a deterrent to the growth of the
industry in these products. Consumer organizations should
support the establishment and development of training programmes
and facilities to train tradespeople in this area and to
update the syllabus of plumbers and builders' apprenticeship
Appliance labeling systems
16. The Forum gave unanimous support to
the establishment of appliance labeling schemes for the
widest possible variety of electrical products. While a
voluntary system may be adopted initially, it is believed
that a compulsory system, based on legislation, is preferable
and more effective in the medium to long term. The Forum
participants noted the variety of different forms of labels
currently in use in different countries, and expressed the
strong view that labels should be kept as simple as possible
and may include a simple categorical rating scheme (e.g.
1-5 stars; A-G categories). Labels should indicate estimated
annual energy use in monetary terms rather than kilowatt-hours.
Any categorical system of labeling may need to adjust or
recalibrate its rating system periodically so as to distinguish
adequately between the efficient and non-efficient products.
17. The Forum believes that it should
be a matter for each country to determine the exact content
and format of the label and that in this area globalization
is neither necessary nor desirable.
18. While consumer organizations need
not be directly involved in the implementation of labeling
schemes, they should have a role in monitoring compliance
by appliance manufacturers.
Batteries for appliances
19. Consumer organizations should be conscious
of environmental problems caused by the current high level
of usage of disposable batteries for consumer appliances,
and should advocate the greater use of rechargeable batteries.
Manufacturers are urged to better design batteries so as
to use less toxic materials. Alkaline batteries are more
energy efficient than zinc chloride batteries and should
be supported in preference.
Stand-by energy for certain products
20. The Forum noted with concern the rapidly
increasing level of energy waste caused by certain modern
electrical products when in stand-by mode. This is a particular
problem in respect of office equipment, such as computers,
fax machines and copiers. The most effective means of avoiding
such waste is to disconnect such appliances from the electricity
supply when they are not in use, although it was recognized
that this is not always practicable. Manufacturers should
be encouraged to produce products with lower stand-by losses
in order to reduce consumer energy bills. The Forum recommends
the adoption of appropriate labeling systems to remedy this
Role of product testing
21. The participants emphasized the need
for consumer organizations in the region to educate consumers
by disseminating product information on energy using appliances
through comparative product testing. The product information
needs to cover performance as well as energy efficiency.
Such information not only reinforces the credibility of
labeling schemes but also enables consumers to become conscious
of energy conservation.
Use of Electronic Media
22. Participants recognized the usefulness
and potential impact of making consumer information materials
available at no expense to users through the electronic
media and recommended that consumers organizations make
increasing use of this communication and information tool,
23. Consumers organizations of the region
may jointly explore opportunity for organizing follow
up local, national or regional training event on the subject
of promotion of sustainable energy use. Supplementary
training and capacity building activity for consumer organization
staff are considered important to strengthen the potential
role of consumer organization in promotion energy efficiency.
24. Consumer organizations should develop
a long term vision, identify and prioritize target areas,
formulate and agree on an action plan in consultation
with and involvement of all stakeholders. Implementation
of plans needs to be backed up by appropriate policy and
regulatory frameworks and supported by economic instruments.
Monitoring and feed-back are also considered necessary
for adjustments to the changing needs.
Inter-country and interagency cooperation
25. There is a need for Governments and
official agencies in charge of energy conservation to support
and promote the work of consumer organizations in the area
of consumer awareness, education and providing credible
product information to consumers. There is need for consumer
groups to build a working relationship with government agencies
involved in this area of work.
26. Consumer organizations felt the continuing
need for intercountry and interagency cooperation.
27. The Forum participants expressed their
appreciation and thanks to the co-organizers of the NGO
Forum, UN ESCAP and CACPK, for their respective efforts
in preparing for and implementing the Forum event. The
Forum participants expressed their appreciation and thanks
to the Government of the Republic of Korea for its generous
support of the NGO capacity building project. The NGO
Forum participants and the organizers acknowledged with
thanks the technical and financial support provided to
this project by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung of Germany.