DEFINITIONS: Explanation of search options

The Policies and Measures database can be searched according to the following six criteria:

Country: The sovereign state that promulgated the policy or measure.

Jurisdiction: The level of government at which the policy was formulated or applies. The available categories are: local, state/regional, national and supranational.

Year: The year in which the policy became effective.

Policy Status: The current implementation status of the policy. The available categories are: planned, in force, ended and superseded (where an ended policy has been directly replaced by another). Note that policies with planned status are rarely included in this these databases.

Key Word Search: Terms typed into this field will be searched for across the title of all database records.

Policy Type: The particular kind of policy instrument planned or implemented.

  • Information and education: Policies and measures designed to increase knowledge, awareness and training among relevant stakeholders or the general public. This can include general information campaigns, targeted training programmes for professionals and labelling schemes that provide the purchaser with information on a product’s energy usage or emissions performance.
  • Economic instruments: Policies and measures that stimulate certain activities, behaviours or investments using financial supports and price signals to influence the market. These include fiscal and financial policy instruments such as taxes, tax relief, grants or subsidies, feed-in tariffs for renewable energy, and loans for the purchase or installation of certain goods and services. They also include direct public funding and procurement rules, and market mechanisms such as tradable permits.
  • Policy development and reform: Refers to steps in the ongoing process of developing, supporting and implementing policies. This  includes strategic plans that guide policy development and the creation of specific bodies to support policy
  • Research, Development &Deployment (RD&D): Policies and measures aimed at supporting technological advancement, through direct government investment, or facilitation of investment, in technology research, development, demonstration and deployment activities.
  • Regulatory instruments: Covers a wide range of instruments with which a government imposes targets, obligations and standards on actors requiring them to undertake specific measures and/or report on specific information. Examples include energy performance standards for appliances, equipment, and buildings; requirement for companies to manage energy consumption, produce or purchase a certain amount of renewable energy or deliver energy efficiency to customers; mandatory energy audits of industrial facilities; requirements to monitor and report on greenhouse gas emissions or energy use.
  • Voluntary approaches: Refers to measures that are undertaken voluntarily either by public agencies or by the private sector unilaterally, or by the two in a negotiated agreement. Unilateral commitments are when entities set themselves environmental targets and communicate successful compliance to their stakeholders. Public voluntary schemes invite companies to meet specified environmental targets established by public authorities. Negotiated agreements set environmental targets agreed between a government and a private sector entity, and may require reporting information on energy use to the government, being subject to audits, and undertaking measures to reduce energy use.

Policy/Technology Target: The particular sector or focus of the policy instrument. These will vary for the three databases, being more specific in the renewable energy and energy efficiency databases.

  • Climate change policy targets: the primary sectoral categories are Buildings, Appliances, Transport, Industry and Energy production (including renewable energy). Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is also included and relates to initiatives in industry or power.
  • Energy efficiency policy targets: are divided on a sectoral basis and with reference to the IEA’s 25 Energy Efficiency Policy Recommendations, into Buildings, Residential appliances, Commercial equipment, Lighting, Transport, Industry and Energy Utilities.
  • Renewable energy targets: are divided on the basis of technology into Bioenergy, Geothermal, Hydropower, Multiple renewable energy sources, Ocean, Solar and Wind.
  • NB. Multi-sectoral policies are those which target several sectors at once, for example a programme to reduce household energy consumption could target buildings, appliances and small-scale renewable energy production.  Framework policies are those which set out broad-ranging strategic plans and form the basis for more specific measures.

PAMS search tips

  • Clicking on the country you are interested in will bring up a result containing all records we hold for that country. You can then further refine your search within that country.
  • In your search results, click the column headings to order results on the basis of that variable heading.
  • Searching by more than one of the six criteria automatically assumes ‘and’ for the search. Ticking one country and one policy target will show policies that relate both to the country and the selected policy target (even if it is one of a policy’s several targets).


Loans: may include green loans, preferential rate loans, dedicated credit-lines and loan guarantees provided by government and revolving loan funds.

Tradable permits:Refers to three kinds of systems:

  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions permits: In GHG trading schemes, industries must hold permits to cover their GHG emissions; if they emit more than the amount of permits they hold, they must purchase permits to make up the shortfall. If they emit less, they may sell these.
  • White certificates: These systems stem from energy efficiency or energy savings obligations; White certificate schemes create certificates for a certain quantity of energy saved, for example a MWh; regulated entities must submit enough certificates to show they have met energy saving obligations. Again, if they are short, this must be made-up through measures that reduce energy use, or through purchase of certificates.
  • Green certificates: These systems are based on obligations to produce or purchase renewable energy-sourced power (generally electricity). Green certificates refer to renewable energy certificates which represent the certified generation of one unit of renewable energy, generally one megawatt-hour (MWh). Certificates can be traded and used to meet renewable energy obligations among consumers and/or producers.

Obligations schemes:  This broad term may include energy efficiency obligations on energy suppliers requiring them to deliver certain energy savings, as well as energy mix quotas requiring energy suppliers to include a certain amount of renewable energy in their generation capacity.

Energy class: refers to the level of a building’s overall energy consumption promoted by a particular policy:

  • Low energy: this is a general category which will apply to all policies and measures which attempt to reduce energy consumption but do no fall into the stricter categories below.
  • Net-zero energy: refers to a building with zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually. Using a combination of reduced overall energy use through efficient building envelope and equipment technologies, and installation of renewable energy producing technologies like solar and wind, net-zero buildings can be independent from the energy grid supply.
  • Plus energy: refers to a building which not only reaches net-zero energy but produces surplus energy through use of renewable technology which can then be fed back into the grid.

Type of building code: various approaches to setting standards for building energy consumption have been taken over time and in different countries. Approaches have tended to evolve through trial and error towards the most effective approach to capturing maximum energy savings. Common approaches are:

  • Prescriptive: sets firm maximum energy usage levels (U-value) which must be applied to each individual component of a building, such as walls and windows, based on their position within the building.
  • Trade-off: also sets requirements for each component within a building, but allows some flexibility for designers to make a selection of components to meet the requirements, in light of the particular building’s characteristics.
  • Model / reference building: generates a hypothetical building with the ideal energy using parameters for the particular purpose and location, which becomes a relative target in the selection of cost-optimum solutions.
  • Energy frame: considers the overall energy losses of the building as a whole and sets maximum energy losses, within which designers have considerable flexibility.
  • Energy performance: considers the overall energy performance of the building in light of its context on the basis of sophisticated calculation tools. This is the latest approach to capturing maximum energy savings.

Lighting/Lamp technologies: Various lighting technologies now exist and have been the subject of both promotional and phase-out policies.

  • Incandescent/Halogen: makes light by heating a metal filament wire to a high temperature until it glows. This was the first light bulb invented but has a low ratio of visible light to heat generation and less efficient than more recent technologies.
  • Fluorescent: is a gas-discharge lamp that uses electricity produce short-wave ultraviolet light from mercury vapor that then causes a phosphor to fluoresce, producing visible light. Compact fluorescent lamps have been designed with adjusted format and light spectrum to replace incandescent lamps.  CFLs use less power than incandescent (typically one fifth) to produce the same amount of light and have a longer rated life.
  • LED and other lamps: a solid-state lamp that uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as the source of light. Because the light output of individual light-emitting diodes is small compared to incandescent and CFLs, multiple diodes are often used together.

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