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The usual approaches to the definition of energy give an ambiguous result for the energy of fields in the radiating regime. We show that for a massless scalar field in Minkowski space-time the definition may be rendered unambiguous by adding the requirement that the energy cannot increase in retarded time. We present a similar theorem for the gravitational field, proved elsewhere, which establishes that the Trautman-Bondi energy is the unique (up to a multiplicative factor) functional, within adoi:10.1103/physrevlett.80.5052 fatcat:5ffyvd6kdnbe7jofe3cs5ryxl4