International Energy Law and Sustainability

Course content

The main objective of the course is to provide the students with a legal understanding of a topic at the core of the global, regional and national agenda. The interaction between different regulatory instruments, relevant policies of development and use of natural resources and various environmental and sustainability impact issues will be treated in the light of international law, European Union law and national law. A further aim of the course is to develop students’ insight into ways in which economic, environmental and sustainability considerations influence the resolution of legal conflicts.


The course is covering the following topics:

1. Introduction to the Energy and Environment Scene

  • What is Energy Law and its sources?
  • The major energy fuels, sectors and activities: Gas, oil, coal, renewables, nuclear, electricity, heat, and conservation & production, transport, transmission, distribution, supply and trade. 
  • Institutional framework: International organizations, European Union institutions and national governments
  • The environmental impact of energy production and use and beyond the carbon economy.
  • The balance in policy development - from public control and monopolies to market liberalisation against environmental consequences.
  • Globalisation, cooperation, and the Sustainability Revolution.


2. Regulatory Models and the Interaction Between Different Instruments

  • The structure of the industry – public and private, monopoly and competition-exposed structures.
  • Allocation of rights and duties between the industry and the government.
  • Statutory regulation, licence systems, tendering, planning systems, negotiation systems, taxes and subsidies.


3. Application of Basic Principles of international and EU Treaties to the Energy Sector

  • The Impact of International Environmental Law Principles on the Energy Sector.
  • Introduction to the regime on climate - the 1992 Climate Convention (UNFCCC), the 1997 Kyoto and the 2015 Paris agreements
  • Free movement of goods, competition rules and State aids.


4. Energy Security

  • Securing energy in an unstable world.
  • East-West co-operation and investment protection in the energy field based on the European Energy Charter Treaty


5. Energy Production: Exploration and Exploitation of Oil and Gas

  • The rights of coastal and other states in the mineral resources of the oceans and the sea bed.
  • Licensing regimes - award and conditions - EU and national regulation.
  • State taking and Regulation of Resource Interests under international law.
  • Pollution and Protection of the Environment in relation to Oil and Gas Activities.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment and abandonment of offshore installations.


6. Renewables, nuclear power, energy efficiency and carbon capture and storage

  • Wind, solar and biofuels.
  • Regulatory instruments and public support.


7. Energy Supply and Use: Electricity, Gas, Heat, and Trade

  • The internal energy market directives and regulations
  • Licence regimes - award and conditions.
  • Rights of transit and third party access to grid systems.
  • Price regulation and planning requirements
  • Smart cities, grids and meetering
  • Consumer protection and involvement


The course builds upon the MA education by applying legal methodology within the specialised area of the energy sector at large that includes both international, EU and national law aspects. This means that the students are requested to understand, identify, analyze and solve legal issues and questions in an essential and complex political, legal and technological setting where many conflicting goals must be balanced.

Learning outcome
  • Present an overview of the different energy supply sectors, the actors, organisation and tasks and put into perspective the interdisciplinary differences and similarities;
  • Explain the basic regulation of the energy supply sectors and the relevant environmental legal principles;
  • Identify and analyse the importance of secure energy supplies, international cooperation and trade and sustainable development;
  • Explain the importance of energy in a modern society, and critically reflect upon the interrelationship between policy, economy and law;
  • Explain and analyse the political and regulatory shift from monopoly to liberalization;
  • Analyse pros and cons between different regulatory instruments and models;
  • Explain and analyse the interrelationship between the rights and obligations of states in relation to natural resources;
  • Analyse the balance of rights between states, industry and consumers;
  • Analyse and compare international, EU and national rules and practice within energy law and related environmental issues;
  • Identify and analyse relevant problems and legal arguments within energy law and the connected environmental impact on the basis of a complex material;
  • Present solutions and arguments in a systematic and coherent manner that shows in-depth knowledge and understanding of the problems within energy law and environmental impact issues;
  • Communicate and formulate her/his knowledge and arguments professionally and linguistically correct and in a structured and coherent way.

Class discussion based on control and analytical questions related to the legal texts and critical review and consideration of actual or potential energy related conflicts; and group work to be prepared beforehand and presented by students in class, including case analysis. Relevant video spots from you tube are used to vary the learning and teaching framework. External video presentations by expert staff member of Colerado Law School. External visit to an important energy player – company, public authority, law firm or energy facility.

Selected Chapters from Energy Law in Europe, edited by Martha Roggenkamp, Catherine Redgwell,Inigo del Guayo and Anita Rønne. Oxford University Press and articles to be uploaded on Absalon. Students are requested not to purchase the book beforehand as only parts of it is mandatory reading. The teacher organises collective purchase of the relevant parts directly with the publisher to receive student discount.

Collection of relevant legal texts: to be found on homepage.

Required readings cover app. 550 pages.

A combination of primarily legal, but more limted some economic or social and natural scientific understanding of technology could add to the understanding

Related subjects (any related courses or related subject areas):
Climate Change and the Law, International and EU Environmental Law

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester

There will be a continued feed back during the course by the teacher and by the students to fellow students on level of activity and presentations. There will be a discussion from the first lecture on the expectation of the teacher and students to performance during class, mid-term evaluation and final evaluation. There will be used examples of earlier exam questions with teacher response and self-evaluation of and to the answers.

Type of assessment
Written examination, 4 hours under invigilation
Written exam, 4 hours with invigilation
Only certain aids allowed

Following website are allowed to use during the exam:

Gyldendals ordbøger:

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • Seminar
  • 56
  • English
  • 412,5