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Energy Transition

Ensuring universal access to sustainable, dependable, and affordable energy is critical to every aspect of prosperity. Increasing public oversight and transparency in the energy sector can help to ensure a fairer green transition and improve human health while also ending contributions to corruption and authoritarianism.

This chapter of the Open Gov Guide outlines a few key areas of the transition to clean energy that will benefit from an open government approach. It is part of a broader set of reforms, including environmental democracy, open climate data, and climate finance, each outlined in their respective chapter.

Open Gov Challenge: Climate and Environment

With OGP’s 2023-2028 Strategy, OGP members are set to work toward a number of aspirational thematic reforms through the Open Gov Challenge. This section of the Open Gov Guide addresses Climate and Environment.

Challenge prompt: Use open government to strengthen implementation of strategies or agreements on climate and environment.

Actions and reforms could include:

  • Implementing provisions in agreements such as the Escazú Agreement, Aarhus Convention, or Paris Agreement.
  • Implementing a climate and environment roadmap or strategy, strengthened through open government approaches.
  • Ensuring public oversight and transparency for climate finance and greening existing fiscal and planning processes.

Key Terms

Definitions for key terms such as Community Benefits Agreements, fossil fuels, and power purchase agreement.

  • Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs): Community Benefits Agreements are legally binding contracts between developers and host municipalities and/or local community groups that can serve to mitigate local impacts of large infrastructure projects and other types of development. Typically, the host community will receive a combination of monetary benefits and non-monetary benefits, while the developer will receive increased community support and increased certainty in the approval process.
  • Fossil fuels: Fossil fuels—coal, oil, and gas—are a major contributor to global warming, accounting for over 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions. At the UNFCCC 28th Conference of the Parties in 2023, all 198 UN member states agreed to move away from fossil fuels. Open government can contribute to ensuring that the move from fossil fuels is fast, just, and efficient.
  • Fossil fuel subsidies: In this chapter, “fossil fuel subsidies” refer to the direct funding and tax expenditures to fossil fuel industry actors, though subsidies also exist for fuel consumers. They include direct funding, tax breaks, loans, loan guarantees, price controls, below-market land and water leases, and research and development funding. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates global fossil fuel subsidies at over seven trillion US dollars annually. These subsidies play a role in entrenching fossil fuel use because consumers do not pay for the true cost of fossil fuels, which makes phasing them out more politically difficult.
  • Power purchase agreement (PPA): A power purchase agreement is a contract that contains key provisions such as price, payment stipulations, and obligations by the energy buyer (known as an “offtaker utility”) and/or host government. Governments, including local governments and utility commissions, regularly purchase energy production, transmission, and distribution. Unfortunately, the terms of such agreements are often negotiated in secret. According to the Center for Global Development, “this opacity has created risks and, in a growing number of cases, contributed to costly and damaging outcomes, such as overpayment, overcapacity, large debts, and grid instability.”
  • Supply chain transparency: Supply chain transparency requires visibility into and disclosure of data from all links in the production of a product. Supply chain transparency requirements may apply to companies as well as the governments that purchase products. Data reported on may range from human slavery and trafficking to labor standards, environmental practices, and corruption.

The Evidence

Given how work on many of these issues is new, open government approaches have a limited evidence base. The consequences of secrecy in the energy sector, however, are clear.

  • In Ghana, secret power purchase agreements are associated with growing government debt, high energy prices, and poor service provision. To address this, the country has published most of its PPAs to renegotiate its overproducing, underdelivering electricity sector and committed to amending the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission Act to promote transparency.
  • In numerous countries, the removal of fossil fuel subsidies without widespread public support led to major energy protests and riots. This political pushback, in turn, has led to significant reversals, with subsidies returning to most countries.
  • On the other hand, multi-stakeholder, multilateral approaches to energy development like Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETPs) have shown some promise in supporting the transition to cleaner energy in carbon-intensive developing countries like Indonesia. To be successful, JETPs should focus on transparency in disclosing costs, benefits, risks, and progress and guarantee the safety of participants.

Reform Guidance

The recommendations below represent reforms that national and local governments, representatives of civil society organizations, and others can consider for their action plans and the Open Gov Challenge. The reforms are categorized according to OGP’s principal values: transparency, civic participation, and public accountability. Reforms should be adapted to fit the domestic context, and involve and coordinate with other levels and branches of government.

Reforms across policy areas are also tagged by the estimated degree of difficulty in implementation. Though progress is often not linear, the recommendations have been categorized using these labels to give the reader a sense of how different reforms can work together to raise the ambition of open government approaches.

Recommended Reforms Key

  • Transparency: Transparency empowers citizens to exercise their rights, hold the government accountable, and participate in decision-making processes. Examples of relevant activities include the proactive or reactive publication of government-held information, legal or institutional frameworks to strengthen the right to access information, and disclosing information using open data standards.

  • Civic Participation: When people are engaged, governments and public institutions are more responsive, innovative, and effective. Examples of relevant initiatives include new or improved processes and mechanisms for the public to contribute to decisions, participatory mechanisms to involve underrepresented groups in policy making, and a legal environment that guarantees civil and political rights.

  • Public Accountability: Public accountability occurs when public institutions must justify their actions, act upon requirements and criticisms, and take responsibility for failure to perform according to laws or commitments. Importantly, public accountability means that members of the public can also access and trigger accountability mechanisms. Examples of relevant activities include citizen audits of performance, new or improved mechanisms or institutions that respond to citizen-initiated appeals processes, and improved access to justice.

  • Inclusion: Inclusion is fundamental to achieving more equitable, representative, and accountable policies that truly serve all people. This includes increasing the voice, agency, and influence of historically discriminated or underrepresented groups. Depending on the context, traditionally underrepresented groups may experience discrimination based on gender, sexual identity, race, ethnicity, age, geography, differing ability, legal, or socioeconomic status.

  • Foundational: This tag is used for reforms that are the essential building blocks of a policy area. “Foundational” does not mean low ambition or low impact. These recommendations often establish basic legal frameworks and institutional structures.

  • Intermediate: This tag is used for reforms that are complex and often involve coordination and outreach between branches, institutions, and levels of government, with the public or between countries.

  • Advanced: This tag is used for reforms that close important loopholes to make existing work more effective and impactful. Specifically, “Advanced” reforms are particularly ambitious, innovative or close important loopholes to make existing work more effective, impactful or sustainable. They are often applied in mature environments where they seek to institutionalize a good practice that has already shown results.

  • Executive: The executive branch of government is responsible for designing, implementing, and enforcing laws, policies, and initiatives. It is typically led by the head of state or government, such as a president or prime minister, along with their appointed cabinet members. The executive branch’s functions also include overseeing the day-to-day operations of the government, managing foreign affairs, and directing the country’s armed forces. In democratic systems, the executive branch is accountable to the legislature and the electorate, with its powers and limitations outlined in the constitution or legal framework of the respective country.

  • Legislative: The legislative branch of government is responsible for making laws and regulations and overseeing the functioning of the government. It typically consists of a body of elected representatives, such as a parliament, congress, or assembly, which is tasked with proposing, debating, amending, and ultimately passing legislation. The legislative branch plays a crucial role in representing the interests of the people, as its members are elected to office by the public. In addition to law-making, this branch often holds the power to levy taxes, allocate funds, and conduct certain investigations into matters of public concern. The structure and powers of the legislative branch are usually outlined in a country’s constitution or legal framework, and it serves as a check on the executive and judicial branches to ensure a system of checks and balances within a state.

What are “critical minerals” and why do they matter?

Critical minerals (such as cobalt, lithium, copper, and nickel) are non-fuel minerals or mineral material essential to green energy supplies. The growing production of electrical and battery systems requires new resources to replace GHG-intensive fossil fuels. As a result, mining for critical minerals is expected to increase by 500 percent by 2050. The new system will have clear global environmental benefits over the existing fossil fuel-dependent economy. However, without appropriate safeguards, it will be susceptible to corruption, abuse, and irreversible environmental damage—these critical minerals often have supply chains vulnerable to disruption, and many, if not most, critical minerals are in corruption-prone areas. While a minority of OGP countries are critical mineral producers, all will be major critical mineral consumers over the coming decades, if they are not already. The open government reforms outlined above can support safeguards to ensure critical mineral mining and consumption do not threaten economic, environmental, and national security

Examples of Reforms from OGP and Beyond

The following examples are commitments previously made within or beyond OGP that demonstrate elements of the recommendations made above. Though the energy transition is a new area of work, OGP governments are already taking actions to implement accounting and reporting standards that include disclosures along the supply chain for extractive industries. Looking ahead, financial regulators in OGP countries will need to take actions to ensure that regulations adhere to the International Sustainability Standards Board’s standards for Climate-Related Disclosures and that the financial sector complies with these disclosure requirements.

OGP Reforms
  • DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Carbon Footprint Calculator for Public Procurement: Committed to creating a Carbon Footprint Calculator to quantify the environmental impact of public procurement projects, which will be available to the public and will play a role in future contracting decisions in the medium term.
  • FRANCE Public Consultations for the Energy and Climate Strategy: Committed to involving the public in designing the new Energy and Climate Strategy, from selecting the strategy’s main focus areas to weighing in on the bill before it is finalized.
  • GHANA Disclosing Petroleum Contracts and Power Purchase Agreements: Committed to publishing petroleum contracts for public access to address the problem of opaque, long-term contracts with foreign buyers of petroleum. Also published most of its PPAs to renegotiate its overproducing, underdelivering electricity sector, and committed to amending the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission Act to promote transparency.
  • MONGOLIA Open Contracts for Extractive Industries: Committed to disclosing agreements commonly made in the extractive industries, such as for investments, product sharing, deposit development, and community development contracts.
  • SCOTLAND, UNITED KINGDOM Multi-Stakeholder Network on Climate Change Policy: Committed to creating a multi-stakeholder network to increase transparency in reporting the government’s actions on climate change (particularly on its net zero commitments) and to support co-creation and civic participation activities related to Scotland’s climate change policies.
  • URUGUAY Disclosure of Open Energy Data: Published energy data related to demand, access, and efficiency on a centralized website, as well as a registry of energy providers, which significantly increased access to energy information in the country.
  • YEREVAN, ARMENIA Platform to Report GHG Emissions: Committed to developing a “green development” platform to increase transparency by reporting on the municipality’s greenhouse gas emissions and actions to increase savings through energy efficiency projects, as part of broader climate-related commitments.
Beyond OGP Action Plans
  • GREECE AND BULGARIA Freedom of Information for PPA Transparency: Longtime OGP actors, Access to Information Programme (AIP) Bulgaria, have been working in Greece to obtain information on payments by the Electricity System Operator (ESO EAD) to electricity producers. With Greenpeace Bulgaria, there is similar work to identify where payments for non-producing power plants have gone.
  • NIGERIA Civic Monitors Trained to Use Open Contracting Data: With the support of the Open Contracting Partnership, trained civic monitors (such as journalists and civil society organizations) on how to use open contract data to monitor 60 public procurement projects (including on energy) worth US $120 million at the subnational level, across three states.

The Role of Local Governments

Local governments are essential to a just energy transition. They play a key role in procurement, permit processes, and energy tariffs, as well as ensuring that multi-stakeholder processes are inclusive to all impacted and concerned communities. In many cases, local governments are also the owners of energy infrastructure and are responsible for energy distribution. In locations that are sites of critical mineral extraction, transit, or processing, they may have an additional role overseeing regulation or disputes. Finally, in places that are current sites of the fossil fuel industry, they may have a particular role to play in overseeing the fair transition away from fossil fuel-based revenue models. This may mean ensuring that employment and retraining programs are administered fairly and without corruption. Developing and implementing economic diversification strategies is also important for local governments to address, especially given the need to find alternative sources of government revenue to replace revenues from fossil fuels. For example, provincial and municipal governments in South Africa’s coal-mining regions are undertaking such diversification efforts.

Local government actions also have critical implications for gender, such as by ensuring fair and dignified employment, minimizing gendered impacts, involving women in planning for future transitions, and addressing the historical exclusion of women in the energy sector. EITI has developed numerous case studies on how to ensure gender-inclusive energy transition that may be illustrative for OGP members.

Who is working on this topic?

Albania Albania
Anloga District, Ghana
Argentina Argentina
Austin, United States
Australia Australia
Banggai, Indonesia
Banská Bystrica, Slovak Republic
Brazil Brazil
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Bulgaria Bulgaria
Burkina Faso Burkina Faso
Canada Canada
Chile Chile
Colombia Colombia
Corrientes (City), Argentina
Costa Rica Costa Rica
Côte d'Ivoire Côte D'ivoire
Croatia Croatia
Denmark Denmark
Detmold, Germany
Dominican Republic Dominican Republic
Ecuador Ecuador
France France
Georgia Georgia
Germany Germany
Greece Greece
Guatemala Guatemala
Gwangju, Republic Of Korea
Gyumri, Armenia
Honduras Honduras
Indonesia Indonesia
Ireland Ireland
Israel Israel
Italy Italy
Jamaica Jamaica
Jordan Jordan
Kaduna State, Nigeria
Kenya Kenya
Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine
Malta Malta
Mendoza, Argentina
Mexico Mexico
Mongolia Mongolia
Morocco Morocco
Nigeria Nigeria
North Macedonia
Panama Panama
Paraguay Paraguay
Paris, France
Peñalolén, Chile
Peru Peru
Philippines Philippines
Plateau, Nigeria
Portugal Portugal
Quintana Roo, Mexico
Republic of Korea Republic Of Korea
Republic of Moldova Republic Of Moldova
Romania Romania
Rosario, Argentina
Rustavi, Georgia
Santo Domingo De Los Tsáchilas, Ecuador
Scotland, United Kingdom
Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana
Senegal Senegal
Shama, Ghana
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone
South Africa South Africa
Spain Spain
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka
Tunisia Tunisia
Ukraine Ukraine
United States United States
Uruguay Uruguay
Vanadzor, Armenia
Wassa Amenfi East, Ghana
Yerevan, Armenia

This list reflects members with commitments in the “Environment & Climate” policy area of the Data Dashboard.

Active OGP Partners

The following organizations have recently worked on this issue in the context of OGP at the national or international level. They may have additional insights on the topic. Please note that this list is not exhaustive. If you are interested in national-level initiatives, please contact

Benchmarking Data

The OGP 2023-2028 Strategy sets out the Open Gov Challenge and aims to provide clear benchmarks for performance through reliable data.

While benchmarks for individual countries and Open Gov Guide recommendations are not yet integrated, for this chapter, interested individuals may rely on the following data sets:

  • The Energy for Growth Hub provides guidance and transparency scores for country performance on publishing power purchase agreements on its website, PPA Watch.
  • Columbia University’s Sabin Center maintains an open database of Community Benefit Agreements. CBAs are used to ensure the informed consent and participation of host communities before infrastructure or development projects begin and to outline the benefits (monetary or non-monetary) that they should receive in exchange for allowing such projects to take place on their land.
  • OGP commitments on extractive industries can be found on the Data Dashboard.

Guidance & Standards

While the list below is not exhaustive, it aims to provide a range of recommendations, standards, and analysis to guide reform in this policy area.

  • As of 2023, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), a global standard-setting body, published a standard for Climate-Related Disclosures. According to ISSB, the standard “requires an entity to disclose information about climate-related risks and opportunities that could reasonably be expected to affect the entity’s cash flows, its access to finance or cost of capital over the short, medium or long term.” These risks include physical climate risks (event-specific and chronic changes to the climate over time) and risks associated with the energy transition. For example, the European Union has enacted a rule requiring disclosures, and the United States Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed such a rule.
  • The EITI Standard includes specific disclosure requirements (4.1 and 6.2) related to accounting practices for extractive industries (especially state-owned ones), such as the reporting of taxes, revenues, subsidies, and other extra-budgetary support. EITI has also published resources relevant to energy, such as its work on ensuring gender concerns are mainstreamed within energy transition plans and implementation.
  • Standards for contract transparency in the energy transition have been developed by the International Consortium on Mining and Minerals and EITI.
  • The Open Contracting Partnership has developed two tools to assist governments and watchdog organizations in monitoring whether public procurement supports environmental, economic, social, and governance goals. These are the Open Sustainable Public Procurement Toolkit and the Green Flags Guide.
  • The <strong”>Energy for Growth Hub provides guidance and transparency scores for country performance on publishing power purchase agreements on its website, PPA Watch.
  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has several resources on conducting Strategic Environmental Assessments, including guidance on good practices.
  • People Powered published guidance on citizens’ climate assemblies, which can be a key element of strategic planning for the energy transition.
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency published a guide on the use of citizen juries in crafting regulations.
Open Government Partnership